Bears drop pitcher's duel
MIKE FEIFEL/TIMES NEWS Tracy Deubler crosses the plate to score Pleasant Valley's lone run in a 2-1 loss to Northampton as umpire Andy Harvan looks on.
It took two days and two different fields, but ultimately it was too much Marly Laubach that ended Pleasant Valley's season.
Laubach, Northampton's junior fireballer, limited the explosive Bear offense to just four hits and struck out 11. The Konkrete Kids needed that type of performance to post a 2-1 victory on Friday in the quarterfinals of the District 11 Class AAAA softball playoffs.
Play was halted in the second inning on Thursday by a fast-moving thunderstorm that left the Bears' regular field unplayable. Because of that, the game had to be completed on the old Pleasant Valley softball field.
Bright sunshine replaced the storms yesterday, but there was still plenty of thunder. This time, however, it was provided by the two pitchers as Laubach and the Bears' Hailey Marini took turns throwing lightning bolts.
While Laubach was overpowering PV batters with her heat, Marini was nearly as effective with her combination of speed and movement, scattering six hits. She struck out just two, but kept the K-Kids off-balance the entire game as she recorded 13 infield outs and retired the last 11 batters she faced.
"Both pitchers did a great job," said Pleasant Valley coach Steve Caffrey. "If Laubach isn't the No. 1 pitcher in the Lehigh Valley then she is No. 2. We knew what we were going up against. She is an outstanding pitcher.
"I'm really pleased with how Hailey pitched as well. She had just one tough inning, but even in that inning I thought she showed a lot of mental toughness. They had a couple of runs home and the bases loaded and could've busted the game open but she got some big outs to keep us in the game."
The inning Caffrey was referring to was the top of the fourth. Kathryn Dalton and Gabi Smith singled before a walk loaded the bases. Taylor Kerbacher followed with a two-run single to right that broke up the scoreless tie. An error followed that re-loaded bases with nobody out.
Pleasant Valley rightfielder Kiersten Griesback then made the defensive play of the game when she caught a fly ball and drilled a strike to the plate to nail a Northampton runner trying to tag up and score. Marini then escaped the jam by inducing a soft grounder to third.
"Kiersten made an outstanding play," said Caffrey. "She caught the ball moving forward and made a perfect throw. That was huge for us because with how well their pitcher was throwing we couldn't afford to fall too far behind."
Griesback also contributed with her bat. After Tracy Daubler ripped a two-out triple to right in the Bear fifth, Griesback followed with an RBI single to make it 2-1.
Although Pleasant Valley (17-6) got a leadoff single in the sixth and did a much better job of putting the ball in play the last few innings, it never got another runner in scoring position the rest of the game.
"Pleasant Valley is a good hitting team," said Laubach. "I faced them a couple of times before and I know some of their players from seeing them in summer tournaments. I knew I had no margin for error after they got their one run so I just tried to bear down.
"Pleasant Valley knocked us out of districts last year so that provided me with some extra motivation. I wanted to do everything in my power to not let that happen again."
Caffrey also talked about last year.
"We lost eight starters from our team that reached the District championship game last season," he said. "But we aren't allowed to have rebuilding seasons at Pleasant Valley. We have an extremely dedicated group of players and coaches who won't settle for that.
"I'm very pleased with what we accomplished. We won another Mountain Valley Conference title and battled right down to the last out today. We are a very young team. I'm excited about our future."
Northampton (14-8) will face Emmaus in the semifinals on Tuesday.
Northampton 000 200 0 - 2 6 0
Pleasant Vy. 000 010 0 - 1 4 2
Laubach and Clancy; Marini and Shaneberger. W-Laubach. L-Marini