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Tamaqua erupts late to top Wilson

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    Tamaqua softball players celebrate an 8-4 victory over Wilson in the District 11 Class 4A playoffs. DON HERB/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Published May 22. 2019 12:10PM

WILSON BORO – Put the pedal to the medal and don’t look back.

Those may not be the exact words that Tamaqua softball coach Jillian Barron said to her team before a matchup with host Wilson in the opening round of the District 11 Class 4A tournament on a sun-splashed Tuesday.

You see. the Blue Raiders are much better than their 13-8 record would indicate, and the way they kicked up an offense en route to an 8-4 win over the Warriors has them pumped for Thursday’s semifinal against top-seeded Northwestern Lehigh.

Though the Raiders didn’t quite get things cranked up until the fifth inning, Barron knew it was just a matter of time before her team came out of the slow start.

“We’ve played this way most of the season, so the slow start didn’t concern me, or even our players,” she said. “We just have a way about us ... call it confidence or whatever, these kids can get it done.”

Although the No. 5 seeded Raiders did most of their damage late, they did manage to push a run across in the third inning to grab a 1-0 lead. A Lexi Thomas single, a throwing error, a passed ball, and a sacrifice fly from Jen Frederickson produced the run.

In the same inning, No. 4 seeded Wilson answered to surge in front 2-1 after taking advantage of an error and base knocks off the bats of McKenzie Rooks and Ashely Errico.

That’s when Tamaqua’s potent offense began to come to life.

With one out in the fifth, Thomas singled and scored on a Fredrickson double to tie the game. Wilson decided to bring on relief pitcher Mikayla Smith to replace starter Ashley Wood, but the strategy backfired when sweet-swinging Miranda Chinchar blasted a double to plate the go-ahead run. Winning pitcher Jada Schellhammer’s run-scoring triple made it 4-2.

The lead would be short-lived as the Warriors (14-8) battled back to tie it thanks to a two-run homer to right center off the bat of Errico.

“Nah, I wasn’t worried,” said Barron when asked about the way Wilson came back to tie it. “Our kids can do a lot of good things; we can play defense, we can pitch and we can hit it, too.”

Tamaqua showed why Barron never lost confidence when it exploded in the top of the seventh to put the game away. The Raiders sent eight batters to the plate during a four-run uprising.

Chinchar got things started with a one-out double to center that nearly carried out, only to hit the fence. Wilson wasn’t gambling with Shellhammer at the plate, intentionally walking her. But Jane Kupchinsky ruined the strategy when she delivered a clutch two-out, two-run single to give Tamaqua the lead. Barron pulled a rabbit out of the hat a little later in the inning when she inserted freshman Gabby Robb to pinch-hit, and she delivered a two-run single.

“I have a lot of confidence in Robb, and for only being a freshman, she can really play this game,” said Barron.

UP NEXT ... Tamaqua meets Northwestern Lehigh on Thursday at 3 p.m. at DeSales University. The teams met on April 3 in New Tripoli, with the Raiders seizing a 10-6 victory.

WHACKING AWAY … Tamaqua had 13 hits, including six for extra-bases. Shellhammer aided her pitching cause with a double and triple, while Thomas, Kupchinsky and Chinchar each doubled and singled. Fredrickson also had a double. Ella McLaughlin, Max Beers and Robb all added singles.

WEB GEMS GALOR … Leather was thrown all over the diamond. Tamaqua’s Bryn Clifford had a big day at second base with her glove as did left fielder Kupchinsky.

QUOTEABLE … “We don’t start hitting the ball until the fifth. We just don’t get off the bus swinging. It takes us a while to get warmed up,” said Tamaqua assistant coach “Nails” Knoblauch on the way the Raiders offense takes time to heat up.

IN THE CIRCLE … Shellhammer fanned six and only walked one.

Tamaqua 001 030 4 - 8 13 1

Wilson 002 020 0 - 4 9 2

Shellhammer and Fredrickson; Wood, Smith (5) and Binner. W - Shellhammer. L - Smith.

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