Bears' bats still blazing
BRODHEADSVILLE - Softball is supposed to be a game dominated by pitching and defense.
But don't tell that to Pleasant Valley or its Mountain Valley Conference opposition.
The Bears' offense has wreaked havoc on MVC pitching staffs the entire season.
Wednesday was no exception as Pleasant Valley scored early and often and went on to defeat Lehighton, 11-2, in an MVC semifinal round playoff game.
"It's so nice to be a pitcher on this team and get the type of offensive support I've had this season," said the Bears' Hailey Marini, who allowed just one earned run and struck out 11 in the game. "It makes my job so much easier knowing that I don't have to be perfect out on the mound.
"My teammates have backed me all season long with unbelievable offensive support. It seems like every time I step on the mound, I'm pitching with the lead and that's a great luxury for a pitcher to have."
How good has the Bears' offense been this season?
They have now scored in double figures in 10 of their 13 league games and in just one MVC game all season have they scored less than six runs.
That type of run production is rare in a sport that is known for its low-scoring pitcher's duels.
"Up and down our line-up we have some pretty good hitters," said Pleasant Valley coach Steve Caffrey. "I'm fortunate to have some talented players and some very good assistant coaches who really work on hitting with our girls.
"We've been pretty consistent offensively this entire season."
Against Lehighton, the Bears got their normal outstanding game from league MVP Rachel Sisco, who had three hits, three RBIs and three runs scored. But they also got a huge performance from Marini, who added three hits and five RBIs.
"I'm really happy for Hailey [Marini]," said Caffrey. "She was struggling with the bat early in the season. She was taking too many pitchers and wasn't being aggressive enough at the plate.
"We kept telling her to hit the first strike she sees. She started doing that part way through the season and is now attacking the ball better than she ever has."
Pleasant Valley (16-5) took control of the game early, scoring five runs in the first inning and adding three more runs in the second.
Marini had a two-run single in the first while Sisco, Madison Shaneberger and Kelci Jones all had RBI doubles. In the second, Sisco singled in one run and Marini knocked in two more.
"Pleasant Valley is such a good hitting team that you can't afford to give them extra outs," said Lehighton coach Todd Weaver. "We had a couple of fielding errors early and we also had a few balls that we had a chance to make a play on, but just didn't do it. That opened the door for a couple of big innings.
"But I like the way our kids kept battling after that bad start. Krista (Rehrig) came on in relief and pitched well and no one quit. We still have districts coming up so hopefully the last few innings today will be something to build on."
In addition to the big games by Marini and Sisco, Pleasant Valley got two hits apiece from Jones and Jordan Meckes. Nicole Kregeloh scored twice.
For Lehighton (12-9), Emily Kollar and Jena Smith both had two hits. Rehrig added an RBI single.
Lehighton 001 100 0 - 2 6 2
Pleasant Vy. 530 012 x - 11 13 2
Evans, Rehrig (2) and Smith; Marini and Shaneberger. W - Marini. L - Evans.