Softball advances in districts
Eight different players drove in runs for Emmaus in the opening game of the District 11 softball playoffs to lead the Lady Hornets to a 15-7 win over Whitehall. The win advances Emmaus to the quarterfinals against a tough Parkland team that has beaten the Hornets twice during the regular season.
Emmaus had not played since May 9 and had to wait through the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference playoffs – won by Parkland – before getting a chance to hit the field again for districts. The team didn’t waste that time off, choosing instead to put in added work that may make the difference in district play.
“I think in some ways it was a blessing,” said coach Britt Fredericks-D’Agostino. “We worked hard and had time to really focus on what we have to do to win games and I think it showed in how we came out today.”
The game was very different from the first two meetings between the two teams, which were split. Whitehall won the first meeting 1-0 and Emmaus took the second 2-0. The Hornets’ win over Whitehall in the final week of the season started what is currently a four-game winning streak and helped push the Hornets into the district playoffs.
Emmaus opened the game with a four-run fourth inning and led all the way, continuing to tack on runs. They opened up a 7-0 lead before Whitehall came back with three runs in the bottom of the fourth, but Emmaus would blow things open with an eight-run fifth inning. The 15 runs were the most the Hornets scored since the second game of the season when they beat Pocono Mountain West 15-0.
“We were swinging the bats well at the beginning of the year, but then we hit a rough patch and just couldn’t put runs on the board,” said Frederick-D’Agostino. “I think that we have some of that intensity back and the girls have really worked on things and they’re ready to go out and show what they can accomplish.”
While offense was the story of the day against Whitehall (11-10), the pitching has been a storyline all season for the Hornets. Hannah Palinkas opened the season as the go-to pitcher for Emmaus and she still is. However, an ankle injury forced her out for a couple games and Maddy Clark filled in admirably.
With two solid pitchers, Emmaus (12-9) has been able to mix-and-match who they put on the mound and even use both pitchers in a game to keep opponents off balance.
“There aren’t a lot of teams with that one-two duo of pitchers that they can use like that,” said the first-year coach. “They’ve both done a tremendous job for us and they’re different enough that it throws the other team’s hitters off. Just when they start to adjust to one type of pitcher we have another option to go to.”
Earlier in the day, Clark and outfielder Caitlin Ashelman announced their college choices. The teammates will stay teammates as they both attend Penn State Hazleton. Clark will major in secondary education and Ashelman will study business management.
“They’re both great girls and I know that they’re going to do well in college,” said Frederick-D’Agostino. “They’ve been great to have on the team and they both work hard.”