Emmaus softball came into the season with extremely high expectations. After a 20-5 campaign in 2017 and five seniors on their roster, it was assumed that the Lady Hornets would simply breeze through the season.
Nothing is ever easy in the East Penn Conference and after starting 4-0 with three of the wins coming against non-conference opponents, reality started to set in. Emmaus went on to lose three straight and then take a bit of a roller coaster ride through much of the schedule with a win or two followed by a loss or two. The team finished the season 11-10 overall.
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 came into the final week of the regular season with its task easily defined, but not necessarily easily achieved.
The Hornet softball team had to find two wins among its final three games of the season to reach districts. That task includes games against Whitehall (7-8 EPC, 11-8 overall), East Stroudsburg South (3-12, 3-15) and Central Catholic (3-13, 3-15).
With Whitehall being the toughest of the three games, the Lady Hornets didn’t shy away from the challenge and wanted a win against the Zephyrs to start their week.
The plan was for Emmaus and Northampton to play their Eastern Pennsylvania Conference game at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, New York, the site of the Baseball Hall of Fame. The weather didn’t cooperate and left the teams to just hang out at the soggy field dreaming about what it might have been like to play there. Fortunately, there are a lot of other things to do in Cooperstown, not the least of which is a tour through the Hall of Fame museum.
When Emmaus beat Pleasant Valley very early in the season, the Hornets won in convincing 5-2 fashion as the Bears got off to a 1-5 start. Fast forward to the District 11 team tournament and that 1-5 team came in at 13-5, riding a 12-match winning streak.
For third-seeded Emmaus, the red hot sixth-seed Pleasant Valley wasn’t necessarily a great draw, but Hornet head coach Dimitri Diamandopoulos also saw some bright spots in the matchup.
After a slight bump in the road, the Emmaus offense has come roaring back and the Hornets have won three straight games to push their record to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. To go with the hot hitting, the team’s pitching has surrendered just four runs over those last three games.
With their first loss of the season coming just a day before, Emmaus got right back to their winning ways, beating a strong Blue Mountain team 2-1. The Eagles figure to be a force in District 11 play and are 6-2 overall on the season.
Nobody really wanted to admit it, but the softball game between Emmaus and Parkland was kind of a big deal. Not only are the two teams rivals who are both pretty good, but first-year Emmaus head coach Brittany Frederick-D’Agostino took over at her alma mater this year after serving as Parkland’s pitching coach the past few seasons.
The game remained scoreless through eight innings when things suddenly became very interesting in the ninth.
When two coaches who have seen their share of weird things happen in baseball agree that one particular inning was extraordinary, you know there had to be a lot going on. That was how both Emmaus coach Mike Mihalik and Parkland coach Kurt Weber viewed the fifth inning of Friday’s game that ended with a 17-1 loss for Emmaus.
In the inning, 13 straight batters reached base for the Trojans and they scored 14 runs on 13 hits, 10 of which were singles. Three walks and an error also helped the Parkland rally against three different Emmaus pitchers.
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.
Dennis Ramella has filled his office with memorabilia of his life and career. His penchant for Syracuse University is evident in the framed team jersey and photos from Syracuse sports.
A line of NFL helmets, including an Eagles helmet autographed by Bill Bergey, lines the top shelf of a book case. His prized possession is a football autographed by 1951 Heisman Trophy winner Dick Kazmaier.
There’s a story behind just about every picture, jersey or other collectible in his office. It’s a second-home to Ramella and he’s made it comfortable for himself.