East Penn Press

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PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERBHanna Palinkas is one of three Emmaus pictchers that have combined to shut out the Hornets’ first three opponents this season. Copyright - Don Herb 2017_ PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERBHanna Palinkas is one of three Emmaus pictchers that have combined to shut out the Hornets’ first three opponents this season. Copyright - Don Herb 2017_

EHS softball off to 3-0 start

Thursday, April 5, 2018 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

When John Eyer retired as the coach of the Emmaus softball team at the conclusion of last season, one of the reasons he gave for the timing was that he the program had a very promising future and he wanted to leave the team in good shape for the next coach. The recipient of that plan was Brittany Frederick-D’Agostino, who took over the team this season and has been able to open the season with a 3-0 mark.

The wins have come through a combination of big offense and shutdown pitching. In three games, the Lady Hornets have pounded out 41 runs on 37 hits. Meanwhile, their pitchers have allowed just two runs and eight hits on the season. Hannah Palinkas, Megan Purinton and Maddy Clark have combined for a streak of 12 straight shutout innings.

That combination of offense and pitching is going to win a lot of games.

In their lone Eastern Pennsylvania Conference game of the season, Purinton and Clark combined to hold Pocono Mountain West to just two hits while the offense pounded out four triples. Caitlyn Ashelman and Jordyn Bruckler both had a double and triple and Abby Bartels and Lily Trexler added triples in the 15-0 win.

They followed up that performance with a 14-0 pounding of Reading that saw Palinkas pick up her second win of the season while striking out 10 of the 15 hitters that she faced. Clark’s three-run home run and Ashelman’s two-run home run led the offensive attack.

Last season, Emmaus finished 20-5 overall and were runners-up to Parkland in the EPC playoffs and reached the semifinals of the District 11 tournament where they lost to Liberty 11-2 in what would wrap up Eyer’s 18-year coaching career with Emmaus, giving him a career mark of 254-151.

That team from last season was relatively young with third baseman Brooke Iobst being the lone key loss. This season, Clark, Purinton and Ashelman are all seniors as are Alexis Ruth and Cassie Burke.

Palinkas, a junior, won 16 games for the Hornets last season and posted a 2.19 ERA on her way to being a member of the EPC second-team all-stars last season. Purinton was also second-team all EPC last season and hit .389 for Emmaus.

For Frederick-D’Agostino, taking over the program at Emmaus, where she was a player during her high school career, was somewhat of a dream come true.

“It’s an unbelievable opportunity,” she said at her introduction as the head coach. “It really means a lot to me that Dennis [athletic director Dennis Ramella] and the school district had the faith in me to give me this position.”

Weather has made getting practices and game in difficult so far this spring, but Emmaus has been relatively fortunate in that it has been able to play all three of their scheduled games thus far. Only three other teams in the EPC can say that, as many teams have only been able to get one game played through the first week of the season.

While Emmaus has an experienced team, rival Parkland, where Frederick-D’Agostino served as pitching coach prior to coming back to Emmaus, has a young team with some potential growing pains. Liberty also lost a number of players and figures to have the same issues that Parkland has this season. Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Nazareth and Northampton figure to provide plenty of competition for Emmaus, who is scheduled to play at Northampton Wednesday for its first division showdown of the season. The Hornets’ first meeting against Parkland is scheduled for Friday at Patriots Park in Allentown.