Lady Bears reach final
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Pleasant Valey's Nicole Kregeloh fields a ground ball before throwing to first for the out in the District 11 Class 4A semifinal against Northampton. The Bears won 1-0 to advance to Thursday's final against Easton.
ALLENTOWN - Steve Caffrey admitted the Pleasant Valley coaching staff originally scheduled the end of the season banquet for this Thursday night.
A few weeks ago, the Bears gave their coaches a hint that they may need to reschedule it for another day.
Thank goodness they did because the Bears will be busy vying for their first-ever district championship.
By picking up a 1-0 victory over Northampton in Tuesday's semi-final, the Bears will return to the District 11 Class AAAA title game for the first time since 2006.
Pleasant Valley will face Easton, the No. 6 seed, a 3-2 winner over Whitehall in nine innings in the other semifinal, Thursday night at Pate's Park at 7 p.m.
"This is something we said could happen to us at the beginning of the year," Caffrey said. "But, at one time, we weren't playing so well. So, we went ahead and scheduled our banquet for this Thursday night.
"However, we ended up starting to play really well so we went made the switch for another night and it's working out for us now."
While Rikki Correll went on to pick up postseason victories in relief in the MVC championship game and in last week's district quarterfinal win over Emmaus, the Bears helped the sophomore pitcher earn a win in the starting role.
"Rikki's pitched real well all year for us," Caffrey said. "Hayli (Marini) threw the last time we faced them (Northampton) and the last couple of games Rikki has pitched really well for us. She's kind of have been lights out for us.
"She more than earned the opportunity to throw here tonight and she pitched really well."
Correll made it almost impossible for the Konkrete Kids to repeat any of a 9-0 regular season victory over the Bears this time.
After allowing the Kids to get runners in scoring position in each of the second, third and fourth innings, either she helped herself out with a strikeout or her defense supported her with key plays to end any bit of a threat.
After the Bears committed the second of two errors in the fourth to allow Brianna Dalton to reach base, Correll was pretty much as Caffrey said, "lights out." She retired the final 12 batters she faced after that.
"I keep the ball in places where I know they weren't going to hit it," said Correll, of why she was so successful in tossing a two-hit shutout, which included seven strikeouts." "I keep the ball low, so it either goes on the ground or they pop it up."
While her counterpart, Northampton sophomore Marly Laubach, was in prime form as well, Pleasant Valley had to make the No. 5 seed pay for its lone mistake of the game to give Correll any run support in what turned out to be a pitchers' duel.
After delivering the game-winning two-run homer against the Green Hornets the other night, Diane Klapatch used her patience at the plate in the fourth inning to set the table.
After pushing it to a full count after five pitches, Klapatch watched the sixth pitch go by for a ball and took a walk to first base. Caffrey sent Jordan Meckes in to pinch-run for Klapatch. The move paid off as Meckes stole second and made it straight to third on a throwing error.
The Bears' Megan Hardy received another opportunity to deliver and she didn't disappoint either, getting another game-winning hit.
After hitting the game-winning homer against East Stroudsburg South in the MVC Championship game, a poke single up the middle by Hardy was enough to give the Bears a chance of redemption against the Kids.
"We knew coming in that the team we lost with was not the same team that we are now," Hardy said. "We're a much better team now. We fight better. We're more together and that really showed today.
"We knew we could come in here and we had faith that we could win and we did. So, it's an incredible feeling right now knowing that we can go out there and get a chance to bring a district title to PV."
Klapatch and Alison Heckman recorded the only other two hits off Laubach. Klapatch posted a single in the first inning, while Heckman added another single in the fourth.
Northampton 000 000 0 - 0 2 1
Pleasant Vy. 000 100 x - 1 3 2
Laubach and Wachter; Correll and Klingel. W - Correll. L - Laubach.