Bulldogs reach goal with softball title
steve shinko/times news Northern Lehigh's Julie Wagaman scores as Palisades' catcher Marybeth Sadow waits for the ball during Thursday's Colonial League Championship game.
ALLENTOWN Northern Lehigh's softball team can take down the post-it numbers.
And they can now replace them with permanent ones.
Before the season began, the current Bulldog squad decided they were going to be the club to end the league championship drought.
After a 3-1 comeback win over Palisades at Pate's Park Thursday, Nolehi accomplished its goal.
Thanks to another strong pitching performance from Julie Wagaman and a clutch two-run single off the bat of Kristi Seiler, the Bulldogs captured their first Colonial League title since 1995.
"These girls know our tradition," said head coach Brian Schell, whose team improved to 16-6. "This group was bold enough at the beginning of the year ... Up on the wall in the team room are the banners of the previous champions. This group had enough confidence and were willing to take the pressure that came with it by putting on stick-on numbers '2010' under district and league champs.
"That just told me from the beginning of the season that this was a group that knew what they wanted. We got a taste of it last year and they really wanted to go further and do more, and they certainly did that."
They might not have been able to do it without the effort of Wagaman and Seiler.
Wagaman, the team's top pitcher, actually struggled a bit in the early going against the Pirates (17-5). The righty, who ended the evening with two walks and six strikeouts, allowed five hits and a run over the first three innings.
The senior, however, bore down and dominated the rest of the way. Wagaman retired the side in order in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Palisades managed a hit in the seventh but on her 100th pitch of the night she struck out the final batter looking to clinch the Colonial crown.
"My team picked me up," said Wagaman. "That's what happened. The defense was there the whole night. They were sturdy like they always are. Once the offense came through, the confidence came through. I got into a little bit of a rhythm later in the game but my team pulled me through this one."
After Palisades opened the scoring in the home third on an RBI single from MaryBeth Sadow, the offense Wagaman talked about quickly wiped out the deficit.
Payton Marunich opened the fourth with a single and stole second. On a short fly to right, Marunich tagged up and moved to third. She came home with the tying run moments later on Seiler's grounder to second.
"That was key getting that run back," said Schell. "It was a manufactured run. I sensed the turn in the attitude when we came in that half inning. Marrone doesn't give up many runs or hits and you know you're not going to get many opportunities. You have to take advantage of every single opportunity."
The Bulldogs almost failed on their next opportunity, but Seiler came through when it mattered most.
Two hits produced a first-and-third situation with just one out in the sixth frame. With Wagaman up, the Bulldogs tried a squeeze play but Palisades cut down the run at the plate. Now with two outs, Seiler calmly stepped to the plate and delivered a two-run single to right to give her team their first lead.
"I usually (pull) the ball but it was an outside pitch so I had to let it come to me," said Seiler. "There's always pressure but they always tell me I can handle pressure well. The team was behind me. It was a big hit but without the runners on base it wouldn't have mattered."
Marunich finished with two hits and two runs scored for the winners, while Seiler had all three RBIs.
No. Lehigh 000 102 0 - 3 6 0
Palisades 001 000 0 - 1 6 0
Wagaman and Bowman; Marrone and Sadow. W - Wagaman. L - Marrone.