Thorpe ends 62-game losing streak
bob ford/times news Jim Thorpe's Talia Valentini slides safely into second base as the ball gets away from Panther Valley's Jessica Bauder.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Jim Thorpe head coach Bernice Bott yelled to her Olympians on the field.
For the first time in a long time, Bott found herself doing her best to keep her Olympians focused on earning a victory.
With her Olympians holding onto a three-run lead, Bott called out to her players, "Two outs, who wants this one?"
It may have taken two tries to get the job done, but the Olympians' lone upperclassman on the squad answered Bott's request with pride.
Olympian senior Nicole Murphy helped Jim Thorpe secure an 18-17 Schuylkill League Division I victory over Panther Valley, which prevented a winless 2013 season for the Olympians and put an end their 62-game losing streak.
In her final stint with the Olympians, Murphy got a bit emotional after the game's last out, which not only ended a Panther Valley rally, but also gave Murphy the chance to taste her first varsity victory.
Murphy shed tears of joy as the Olympians celebrated the team's first win since April 29, 2010, when they beat Panther Valley,10-6.
"I started crying because I'm that happy for our team," Murphy said. "I'm so proud of our team. We worked hard all season for this. We definitely deserved this one.
"I can't even explain the happiness I'm feeling because I'm just that excited right now."
After striking out the Panthers' Hannah Hill for what would have been the third out in the bottom of the seventh, Hill reached base on a passed ball. One pitch later however, Murphy saw a three-run lead cut to one as Sam Zlock blasted a historical two-run homerun.
It the first homerun over the Panther Valley softball field fence since it was put up and it turned the pressure on teh Olympians to hold on for the streak-breaking win. Bott remained confident in Murphy to get the final out.
"Nicole stepped up all year becoming a pitcher for us," Bott said. "She really isn't a pitcher by trade as she's our second baseman.
"She has taken a lot of pressure all year from us. We have tried to stay behind her when our wheels have fallen off. I can't say enough about Nicole being tough, strong, keeping the girls focused, on line, and she just continues to work well under pressure."
The pressure was on throughout the entire game.
After Panther Valley took and early lead and made it look as if it was going to be another game in which Jim Thorpe would have to pull itself out a hole, the Olympians went off for a 13-run fourth to build a 15-6 lead after four.
After committing six errors in the fourth, the Panthers made up for it with six hits that accounted for seven runs the next inning.
"When they came in, we talked about heart," said PV head coach Jim Hull, speaking to his Panthers in the bottom of the fifth. "We said, 'Look, our backs are against the well. We need to score runs. We're going to see how much heart we have.'
"We came back and only lost by one run. They showed some heart coming back into the game like that. But, Jim Thorpe had the better bats and the better team today."
Jocelyn DeMarco paced the Olympians with two singles, a double, two runs scored, two RBIs and two walks, while Kimmie Condly added three singles, two runs scored and three RBIs.
The Panthers' Kristyn Gates was a homerun shy of the cycle as she recorded a single, double, triple, three runs scored and three RBIs.
Jim Thorpe 101 (13)12 0 - 18 13 4
Panther Vy. 231 072 2 - 17 15 8
Valentini, Murphy (5) and Kehrli; Zlock, Tucker (4) and Rodriguez. W - Valentini. L - Zlock. S - Murphy. HR: PV - Zlock (7th, one on).