PHOTO: Pittston Area pitcher Gianna Adams.
By Tom Robinson, NEPASportsNation.com
CLARKS SUMMIT – The semifinal round of the District 2-4 Class 5A Subregional softball tournament lived up to expectations with unbeaten Pittston Area fighting off its biggest challenge of the season and defending champion and top-seed West Scranton needing extra innings to advance.
Those results set up the subregional championship game between Lackawanna League Division 1 co-leader West Scranton (19-1) and Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 champion Pittston Area (20-0).
That final, originally scheduled for the second half of a Wednesday doubleheader at Marywood University, is now set for Thursday at 2 p.m. at Marywood, weather permitting.
The top four teams in the bracket all either won division titles or are waiting for a potential playoff to settle the title.
They reached the semifinal round with a combined 67-6 record after posting three shutouts and a 10-run victory in the quarterfinals.
“The team that wins this bracket is going to be ready to make a long run,” said Abington Heights coach John Kelly, whose team will still meet West Scranton for the division title, if the Lady Invaders are eliminated from the postseason in time. “ … Whoever moves on is going to be battle-tested.”
A look back at the first two rounds of the subregional:
MAY 24 QUARTERFINALS
West Scranton 12, Wyoming Valley West 2
Amelia Noll drove in six runs as West Scranton won in five innings.
Noll went 2-for-2 with a triple and a sacrifice fly.
Mia Butka did not allow an earned run while striking out eight in a two-hitter.
Victoria Herne drove in three runs and Isabella Summa scored three times. Gianna Russo added a triple.
Isabella Seip singled and scored for Wyoming Valley West.
North Pocono 7, Wallenpaupack 0
Alexa Stevens drove in five runs while Julie Schriver struck out eight in a three-hit shutout to lead the Lady Trojans.
Stevens hit a home run and doubled.
Schriver walked four in her shutout.
Mastillo homered and drove in the other two runs.
Pittston Area 6, Crestwood 0
Gianna Adams fired a no-hitter with 14 strikeouts.
Adams also hit a home run and double while scoring twice and driving in two runs. She walked three batters.
Tori Para went 2-for-2 with a homer, two RBI and two runs.
Abington Heights 5, Shikellamy 0
Lauren Stalica struck out eight and kept the Braves scoreless despite seven hits.
Megan Heard, Bryn Stiles, Lindsey Tasker and Renee McDonald, the top four hitters in the order, each had two hits. Stiles scored twice.
MAY 26 SEMIFINALS
West Scranton 3, North Pocono 2
Herne lined a hard single to left field with two out in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift West Scranton over Lackawanna Division 2 champion North Pocono and back into the championship game.
North Pocono had taken a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth when Amanda Burch and Kylie Mastillo singled with two out. Following an intentional walk to Savannah Slater, Morgan Davis singled with the bases loaded to drive in two runs.
West Scranton came right back to tie it in the bottom of the inning on a homer by Noll.
Madison Maloney had three hits while Noll and Herne had two each for West.
Mastillo had two hits for North Pocono.
West Scranton had opened the scoring in the first inning on back-to-back doubles by Russo and Olivia Dougher.
Pittston Area 5, Abington Heights 3
Pittston Area batted around and scored three times in the top of the first inning, but after an inning-ending diving stop by second baseman Lindsey Tasker kept them from scoring more, the Lady Patriots had to fight off a comeback by Abington Heights.
Adams retired 11 straight to get within an out of the win, then after a Colleen Cole single brought the tying run to the plate, Adams got the final out with the help of second baseman Bella Giardina handling a groundball to get the force at second.
“We haven’t had many close games and I was proud of my girls for not being nervous at all in a close game,” Pittston Area coach Frank Parente said. “They haven’t been there that much this year.”
The Lady Patriots had not allowed an opponent to come closer than 3 runs all season and had averaged a double-figures margin over their previous 12 games.
“Their second baseman was fantastic,” Parente said. “That was a huge play in the first inning. … She saved them.”
Abington Heights cut the deficit to 3-2 at the end of one inning.
Pittston Area succeeded in two different types of games.
After 2½ innings, the teams had already produced 11 hits and 7 runs.
Stalica’s home run to lead off the bottom of the fourth was the only run and one of just four hits over the final 4½ innings.
Marina Antal, Bella Giardini and Kallie Booth gave Pittston Area an RBI single in each of the first three innings.
Stalica then settled in to retire 10 straight.
PHOTO: Pittston Area pitcher Gianna Adams.