Tamaqua shuts down Tribe
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Lehighton's Brooke Lucykanish slides safely into second base as Tamaqua's Lynn Kistler takes the throw. Tamaqua wound up winning the game by a 6-3 score.
It didn't take Bailey Pedersen long to learn the ups and downs of being a varsity softball pitcher.
The Tamaqua freshman experienced both sides of the game in her first varsity start against Lehighton in a non-league game on Thursday.
Pedersen got the best of the Indians with her rising pitch over the first six innings, as she accounted for 13 of the game's first 18 outs on strikeouts en route to a 6-3 win.
Meanwhile, she had to receive a boost of confidence from Tamaqua head coach Jill Barron and then rely on her team's defense to stall every bit of a Lehighton rally in the seventh.
Pedersen said it felt really good to get her first varsity win out of the way, but she shared what she had to do to be successful in both situations.
"I always try to hit my spots the best I can and I always do my best to win the game," said Pedersen, who only surrendered two walks. "I can't let innings like that get the best of me. I just need to move onto the next batter and just do my best to get the last out."
Barron admitted Pedersen has the ability to follow in the footsteps of some fine Blue Raiders' pitchers of the past like Allie Sotak and Jen Bensinger.
"She has the heart to be a good pitcher," Barron said. "This is what she wants to do. This is her thing. But, the last inning there she just wasn't hitting her spots at all.
"That's why I had to go out and calm her down a bit. I told her how important it is that she has to regroup and get herself back in the game and work the next batter and that's what she did. And, we got ourselves out of it."
However, over the first six innings, Pedersen had no problems doing that at all as she presented issues at the plate for the Indians. She struck the side out in each the first and sixth innings, while accounting for two of the outs in the second, third and fifth.
It was in the third and fourth innings where she received the necessary support from her Blue Raiders' offense to get ahead in the game.
Nesya Sullivan singled to lead off the third and then stole second before she trotted across home plate on a throwing error by the Indians, which put teammate Brianna Wittig at first base. Alexis Boyer then successfully completed a hit-and-run and Wittig scored from first when Boyer laced a RBI single to right.
In the fourth, Sullivan poked a two-run triple to score April Donnon and Angelica Heisler. Then Sullivan scored on a Mackenzie Heisler fielder's choice.
In its last at-bat, Lehighton first year coach Greg Poremba was able to see his Indians finally zone in on Pedersen's pitches and put together a bit of a rally.
Kelsey Andrew started things off with a RBI double to score Brooke Lucykanish, who reached on an error to start the inning. Cami Nalesnik followed with an RBI single up the middle and then Chelsea German laced a RBI triple down the right field line.
Three runs is all the Indians could muster in what was both team's first game of the season. Poremba was still pleased with the fight his Indians showed that day.
"Because they are so young, we knew we would have some rough times this season," Poremba stressed. "When they get it, and they're believing in what we're doing, and they're learning, I believe we will be fine. I'm very excited about this group of kids because they are hard workers and today they showed their character and believing there's a chance and they showed that. They never gave up.
"Unfortunately, it didn't turn out for the best for us in the end. But, they did a great job anyway."
Nalesnik finished with two of the Indians' four hits, while Sullivan was the Blue Raiders' lone multiple hitter.
Tamaqua 002 300 1 - 6 4 2
Lehighton 000 000 3 - 3 6 2
Pedersen and Boyer; Bickert, Binyon (5) and Andrew. W - Pedersen. L - Bickert.