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On This Date (May 22, 1981): Indians win softball title

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Since May of 1999, the Times News Sports Department has featured an On This Date practically every day, highlighting an event that happened in the past. With the coronavirus putting a halt to sports locally and nationally, the On This Dates have been expanded to the stories that actually ran in the next day’s newspaper. Today’s On This Date story is from May 22, 1981).

By Craig Potter

Associate Sports Editor

STROUDSBURG - The Lehighton softball team used its bats effectively all season in winning its first-ever Centennial League title.

The Lady Indians downed East Stroudsburg 6-2 Friday in a playoff game for the second half crown. Lehighton utilized its offensive punch as the Tribe outscored the opposition every time out except one.

That one occurred last Friday as the Lady Cavaliers blanked the Indians 3-0, forcing a playoff for the second half honors. Lehighton won the first half title with an unblemished 8-0 record.

The championship was also a culmination of six years’ work for Lehighton coach Joel Christman.

Christman is the only coach the Indians have had since the program started six years ago.

“Fantastic,” was Christman’s reply when asked how he felt. “We had a good season last year and the year before that. I thought we had a shot at the title those years. We finally made it.”

Christman explained that both hitting and fielding were key factors in the victory.

“Beth (Smith) is a good pitcher, but not overpowering,” Christman said. “We have a half decent defense and a good hitting game. We just outscore the other team.”

The coach cited Smith and Julie Frey as four-year starters, while Robin Bottcher was a three-year starter.

The seeding meeting will take place Wednesday at Emmaus for the District XI tournament.

Bottcher was the hitting star with a double and a triple and three RBIs for Lehighton. The Indians got on the board first with a solo run in the second inning as Bottcher led off with a double and scored on Pat Kauffman’s single.

Bottcher smashed a bases loaded triple in the third as the Indians were never seriously challenged. With one out, Barb German sandwiched a single between walks to Frey and Smith, setting the stage for Bottcher’s game-winning hit.

East Stroudsburg broke into the scoring column with a run in the bottom of the third. Jill Schaller singled and eventually crossed the plate on a ground out.

The Tribe added two insurance markers in the fifth, as with one out Smith singled. Another out later, Karen Klotz tripled and headed home to score as the ball was misplayed on the relay from the outfield.

The Cavaliers plated their final run in the bottom of the seventh. Nancy Seneca led off with a single and scored two outs later on Patrice Summa’s triple. After walking a batter, Smith got a pop-up to the shortstop German in short left field to end the game.

Eastburg only collected three hits off Smith.

German and Bottcher had two hits each for the Indians.

Lehighton 013 020 0 - 6 7 3

E. Stroudsburg 001 000 1 - 2 3 1

Smith and Frey; Miller and Clouse.

The 1981 Lehighton softball team, coached by Joel Christman (front row, right), captured the Centennial League championship. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO