Big first inning lifts Bombers
rich george/special to the times news Steph Brinker of Palmerton slides home as Lehighton catcher Kelsey Andrews waits for the throw.
The rosters of the Palmerton and Lehighton softball teams are saturated with so many underclassmen that they could easily be mistaken for junior varsity squads.
The talent displayed on the field, especially on the part of the Blue Bombers, told a different story.
The ages of the players might have said JV. But the ability screamed varsity.
Thursday afternoon, buoyed by a host of freshmen and sophomores, Palmerton rolled to a 15-3 non-league victory over the Indians.
The Bombers got contributions up and down the line-up as nine different players got hits, 11 different players scored runs, and seven different players knocked in runs.
"We've been waiting for this type of offensive performance," said Palmerton coach Glenn Reimer. "We have a lot of athletic ability and we expected to be a good offensive team this year.
"We really hadn't shown this type of hitting in our first three games. But we are extremely young and the weather hasn't been very cooperative so I guess it's understandable."
When Reimer says the Bombers are young, he isn't exaggerating. Palmerton started three freshmen and four sophomores yesterday.
Among the freshmen were the starting battery of pitcher Kendra Pekurney and catcher Allysa Acker. All Pekurney did was throw three innings of no-hit ball, striking out six and walking one. At the plate, she singled, walked, scored a run and knocked in two.
"Kendra pitched really well," said Reimer. "She's done a nice job all year, but we haven't given her a lot of offensive support.
"Nobody appreciated the big first inning we had today more than Kendra."
Palmerton scored seven runs in the opening inning. All the damage came with two out and nobody on base.
Janel Tracy got things started with a long home run to leftfield. The other key hits were RBI singles by Acker, Sam Doherty and Jordan Boyer and a two-run single by Pekurney. Six of the runs were unearned thanks to a pair of infield errors by the Indians.
"We stress to our kids the importance of putting the ball in play and never quitting on an inning," said Reimer. "We're always talking about big two-out hits and today you the saw the impact that can have."
While Palmerton (2-2) reaped the rewards that come from getting clutch two-out hits and taking advantage of the opposition's mistakes, Lehighton was forced to use it as a learning experience.
"That first inning took a lot of wind out of our sails," said Indian coach Greg Poremba. "We had a chance to get out of the inning with just one run scoring, but couldn't get it done.
"We're very young. We start four freshman and three sophomores and most of them haven't played tournament softball. I think they are still trying to adjust to the different pressure you face in games as opposed to practice."
Poremba said that he is seeing progress and likes what the future holds.
"I don't think today is a true reflection of the ability we possess," he said. "We just need to be patient and keep practicing hard.
"We have some talented, hard-working girls. This is a team that will keep improving every time it steps on the field."
After grabbing the early 7-0 lead, Palmerton tacked on five more runs in the third as Doherty ripped a two-run single to left and Tracy and Steph Buck both drove in one run. A three-run fourth that featured hits by Acker, Boyer and Lindsay Stasko capped the Bomber scoring.
Doherty finished with two hits and three RBIs for Palmerton. Tracy added the home run, two runs scored and two RBIs. Boyer and Acker both had two hits and scored twice.
For Lehighton (1-3), Jocelyn Hunsicker had a pair of hits and two RBIs.
"With all the young talent we have, we're excited about the future," said Reimer. "But we also have a couple of veteran players with lots of experience who give us the ability and the leadership to win now - and that's what we want to do."
Lehighton 000 12 - 3 5 4
Palmerton 705 3x - 15 12 0
Binyon, Bickert (3) and Andrews; Pekurney, Dugan (4) and Acker. W - Pekurney. L - Binyon. HR - Palmerton: Tracy (1st, none on).