Bulldogs ousted by North Schuylkill
RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS Northern Lehigh catcher Erika Bowman hurls the ball to first after fielding a bunt. Behind her is teammate Kristi Seiler.
There wasn't any power hitting by either Northern Lehigh or North Schuylkill in their first round, District 11 Class AA matchup Thursday. The only hits by both teams were singles.
The visiting Spartans won the game, 5-0, scoring early by capitalizing on errors and speed.
Also worth mentioning is a superb pitching performance by North Schuylkill's Cassie Lapotsky, who allowed only four N.L. hits, struck out 11 Lady Bulldogs, and walked just two.
Third-seeded Northern Lehigh, which finished the season with a 12-9 record, was lethargic until the seventh inning when they looked like they might put forth a rally.
In the bottom of the seventh, Maggie Lear led off with a single and Amber Kibler walked, putting runners at first and second with nobody out. An infield fly, a strike-out, and a ground ball ended the game.
Northern Lehigh never got a runner further than second base.
Head Coach Brian Schell said that giving up a couple of early runs is what proved fatal to his squad.
"We gave up those couple of runs early," he said. "When you're playing a good team, you can't give them runs like that."
Schell had praise for Lapotsky, an underclassman.
He also said Nolehi pitcher Tamara Stubits, who relieved Lear in the third inning, also did a great job. Of Stubits, she said, "She pitched well for us but the cow was out of the barn."
When Stubits took the mound, the Spartans (14-7) already lead 3-0.
One thing which made the win surprising to some was that the Lady Bulldogs are a veteran squad laced with seniors, while the Spartans don't have any seniors on their entire roster.
Schell said that he is proud of the accomplishments his girls have achieved, stating, "They're a great group of girls. We have a great group of seniors, most of them have been with us four years."
"They've accounted for 57 wins over four years," he added.
He said it is such credentials which inspire others to give their all when playing you. "When you're the defending Colonial League champion, you have the bulls-eye on you," he said. "These girls gave it all they had. It just didn't work out."
North Schuylkill Coach Dominic Grasso said one reason his team won is "That was one of the best complete games we played all year."
He noted that one of the main reasons for the victory is that "the bottom half of the lineup got on base."
"We struggled this year," he said, "but we also beat some good teams such as Berwick. The game today was basically a good game. Our bunting worked. We had good speed. The suicide squeeze in the first inning got it all started."
In the first, leadoff batter Robyn Orth got to first on a full-count walk, made it to third on an error, and then scored when Lapotsky provided the suicide bunt.
Two more runs in the second made the score 3-0 for North Schuylkill thanks to two walks, two singles, and a sacrifice fly.
Off Stubits, the only scoring by North Schuylkill was in the fourth. Stubits used four pitches to strike out the first batter, then an error let Courtney McGrath, who bats ninth, get to second. A consecutive trio of singles allowed the two runs to score.
Except for the seventh, Northern Lehigh never had more than one runner on base in an inning.
No. Schuylikll 120 200 0 - 5 6 0
No. Lehigh 000 000 0 - 0 4 2
Lapotsky and Cappel. Lear, Stubits (3) and Bowman. WP - Laposky. LP - Lear.