Surprising NL keeps advancing
Halie Krasenics of Northern Lehigh slides in ahead of the throw to Philadelphia Academy Charter third baseman Mackenzie Steward. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
ALLENTOWN — Teams entering postseason play with a 7-13 record don’t typically stay around too long,
Based on that, Northern Lehigh probably shouldn’t still be playing softball.
But the Dawgs are playing and winning.
Northern Lehigh won its fourth straight postseason game with a 10-0 dismantling of Philadelphia Academy Charter High School in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs on Monday.
Northern Lehigh junior pitcher Alicia Horn struck out 11 batters, including eight of the first nine that she faced, and allowed just three hits in the game as the Bulldogs improved to 11-13 on the season.
“I was just doing what was working, and they were swinging at high pitches, and I was okay with that,” said Horn. “I just wanted to do my part in keeping the momentum going.”
Offensively, Brianna Schuck had two hits, drove in two runs and scored one. Lauren Hoffman had two hits and a walk, scored all three times she was on base and drove in two runs with a second-inning double.
The Chargers’ best chance to score came in the first inning when they got two of their three hits and loaded the bases. But Horn struck out Tara Meade to end the inning. She then retired the next nine batters.
The Bulldogs started early when Madison Peters and Hoffman drew back-to-back one-out walks in the bottom of the first. Schuck then delivered her first of three hits to drive in Peters. Later in the inning, Alley Handwerk grounded into a fielder’s choice that brought home Hoffman and make it 2-0.
In the second, Northern Lehigh extended its lead. With runners on first and third and one out, Hoffman hit a fly ball to the gap in right-center field to bring in both runners and make it a 4-0 Dawgs’ lead. Later, a Julia Wanamaker sacrifice fly and an RBI triple by Halie Krasenics made it 6-0.
“I was just looking to drive in runs and keep us going in that at-bat. We keep finding ways to make things happen, and that was a big spot for us to extend the lead,” Hoffman said. “I really wanted to come through for us in that spot, and I got a good pitch to hit.”
Another four-run inning in the fourth put the game into 10-run rule territory. Schuck had an RBI double that drove in Hoffman, who singled and stole second. Handwerk picked up an RBI on a grounder up the middle and Katie Yesik’s two-out, two-run single to left made it 10-0.
Philadelphia Academy (11-5) picked up a pair of two-out walks in the fourth, but Horn again used a strikeout to get out of the jam.
The Chargers got a two-out single off Horn in the top of the fifth, but the runner was erased on a stolen base attempt that ended the game.
“We’re not really doing anything different than we did during the regular season. We’re working just as hard in practice and executing well on the field,” Northern Lehigh coach Kate Farber said. “I think that with each game though, our girls are gaining more and more confidence and that’s what’s driving the team right now.
“They’re all confident that they’re going to win every time out. We always felt we were better than our record, and now we’re just putting up the wins to prove it.”
THE ROAD TO PSU ... Up next for Northern Lehigh is a PIAA quarterfinal round game against District 3 champion Susquenita (18-6), who beat Line Mountain on Monday. That game will be played on Thursday at a site to be determined. Susquenita lost four of its last six regular season games before winning the district tournament prior to defeating Line Mountain.
UP AND COMING ... Farber was happy with how Horn pitched against the Chargers, but believes she can and will be even better. “We haven’t seen the best of her yet. I think she would agree that she can pitch even better than we have seen her pitch. She gains more confidence and keeps getting better, and she’s got another season to show just how good she can be,” Farber said.
Philadelphia AC 000 00 - 0 3 1
Northern Lehigh 240 4x - 10 9 0
Olivieri and Meade; Horn and Schuck. W - Horn. L - Olivieri.