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NL rallies past Miners to reach title game

Published May 25. 2019 12:28AM

ORWIGSBURG — Better late than never, right?

It was for Northern Lehigh in the PIAA District 11 Class 2A semifinals against Minersville.

After trailing 3-2 after four innings on Friday, the Bulldogs scored five of their seven runs in the final two frames, en route to defeating the Battlin’ Miners, 7-6.

Trailing in the top of the fourth, Northern Lehigh scored only once to make it a one-run game. However, the lone run was a crack of the bat that was heard on the other side of Deer Lake, as Lauren Hoffman smacked a solo home run over the center field fence.

“It was very exciting and nerve-racking at the same time,” Hoffman said. “I just wanted to get the bat on the ball. We have a lot of heart as a team and confidence in each other.”

The rest of the Bulldogs’ bats woke up in the sixth inning.

After Brianna Schuck and Katie Yesik drew walks, Halie Krasenics came to the plate with two outs. The sophomore showed no signs of pressure and laced a two-run double to regain the lead for the Bulldogs (8-13). Alley Handwerk then put the ball in play to the Miners’ third baseman, but the grounder was botched, which allowed Krasenics to score.

Minersville starting pitcher Aramie Arroyo was cruising early, but after the Bulldogs’ adjustment, things were different in the final innings.

“We had to make in-game adjustments and I always preach that to the girls,” said Northern Lehigh head coach Kate Farber. “That’s the team that wins.

“She had us on our toes in the first couple innings of the game. She had a nice curve ball and she was throwing a riser. As soon as we laid off the riser, went tight to the line and kept that curveball from happening, we capitalized.”

But the Miners bounced right back in the bottom of the sixth.

Emily Graeff led off with a double, Alex Kroznuskie followed with a single and then Arroyo hit a sacrifice fly to deep center. MaKaila Frie-Karkanica then walked to load the bases, which led to Haley Sekellick’s two-run single.

Just like that. The game was tied.

“We have lot of heart,” Hoffman said. “No matter when we’re down, everyone is up cheering and we have a lot of confidence in ourselves.”

The Bulldogs picked up where they left off in the top of the seventh.

Shyanna Williams led off with a walk and then Hoffman singled, advancing Williams to third. Oddly enough on the play, Arroyo and the home-plate umpire collided between third base and the chalk as the ball was being thrown from the outfield to third base. Both were down for a few minutes, but they resumed their respective duties and finished the game.

When play resumed after the unlucky collision, Schuck was intentionally walked to load the bases. Julia Wannamaker took advantage of her trip to the plate and hit what would be the game-winning two-run single.

“We didn’t come out of the regular season with the overall record that we wanted,” Farber said. “But in my opinion, we play in the toughest league. We’re the only 2A school in the Colonial League. We get our butts kicked all year long, but we come here prepared ... for pressure situations and tough teams. This is what we worked for all year long.”

Bulldogs starting pitcher Alicia Horn took the circle in the final half-inning and looked strong and confident. After issuing 12 free passes throughout the course of the contest, Horn came up clutch when the game was on the line.

She set the Miners down in order to end the game, and helped clinch a spot in the Class 2A Championship game against Schuylkill Haven on Tuesday.

“She never quit and she knew the team was behind her,” said Farber. “I think she probably knows at the end of the day she didn’t pitch her best game, but she never quit. I needed her the most in the last inning to get those three outs, and she did exactly that.”

YOU CAN DO IT … Farber is a 2003 Northern Lehigh graduate and former softball player. “I played in a district championship game as a Bulldog myself and came up short,” Farber said. “I’ve been preaching to them since day one to do what I never could as a player. Bulldogs fight and never die.”

DUCKS ON THE POND … The Miners could not take advantage of a plethora of runners, stranding nine on base.

GOLD GLOVE … The Bulldogs flashed the leather in the bottom of the fourth frame. There was probably no defensive play better at Blue Mountain High School than the one Williams made. With nobody out, Minersville’s Abbey Adams smoked a shot into the hole. But it was no match for NL’s shortstop, who used the backhand and laid out, getting up and throwing a laser across the diamond in one motion to make the play. “Shyanna is by far one of the best defensive players we have,” said Farber. “I always tell her nothing in the hole, nothing to the right, nothing to the left. If she can’t get to it, she’s diving trying to.”

No. Lehigh 100 103 2 - 7 7 2

Minersville 003 003 0 - 6 6 1

Horn and Schuck; Arroyo and Sekellick. W - Horn. L - Arroyo. HR: Northern Lehigh - Hoffman (4th, none on).

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