NEPA Sports Nation

Tasker helps Abington Heights dump defending state champions

Pictured above: Abington Heights pitcher Lauren Stalica.

By Tom Robinson,

EDWARDSVILLE – Lindsey Tasker drove in the second Abington Heights run, then joined Lauren Stalica in making sure it was enough to end Pittston Area’s reign as district, subregional and state Class 5A softball champion.

Tasker’s quick reaction and throw across the diamond for the first out and Stalica’s strikeout for the last out defused a Pittston Area rally in the bottom of the seventh inning and preserved a 2-1 victory in the May 30 District 2-4 Class 5A Subregional championship game.

Pittston Area did not score until the seventh inning as Stalica limited the Lady Patriots to four base runners in six innings.

The bottom of the seventh inning was different and could have been much worse for the Comets if not for Tasker’s reaction.

The same bunt play that produced the Pittston Area run also had the potential to put runners on first and third with none out.

Tasker had vacated her second-base position on the Grace Callahan bunt in order to cover first base as part of the rotation in an attempt to at least limit the play to a sacrifice.

When the ball settled near the spot Tasker had left, Marina Antal was able to score from second.

Tasker, however, scrambled back to the ball and made sure the second runner could not make it all the way from first to third. Her throw to third base got the first out of the inning.

“We made a mistake and opened the door and our second baseman made a heckuva play to throw that runner out at third,” Abington Heights coach John Kelly said, pointing to an error that preceded the bunt. “That was huge.

“That won the game.”

The Lady Patriots had not been stopped for good yet. Tasker’s throw grew in importance following a walk that would have loaded the bases.

With two out and two on, Stalica got the game-ending strikeout, her eighth of the game.

The championship victory was the 12th straight for an Abington Heights team that went 6-6 in its first 12 games of the season.

“We played a really tough out-of-league schedule,” Kelly said. “The six teams that we lost to are all in their state playoffs. They’re all really good teams and that really helped prepare us and get ready for the rest of our season.

“I told our girls when we were 6-6, ‘we’re not a finished product. Don’t get down. Let’s keep working hard.’ The big win was Valley View. From Valley View, we really started getting momentum and started feeling better about ourselves.”

Tasker and Stalica also helped Abington Heights build the 2-0 lead with runs in the fourth and fifth innings.

The Comets got to Pittston Area’s Gianna Adams, the state Class 5A Pitcher of the Year in 2022, according to Pennsylvania Sports Writers, after Adams had allowed just one runner in the first three innings.

Abington Heights started the fourth inning with back-to-back singles by Marley Sarafinko and Stalica.

The runners moved into scoring position on the first out of the inning and scored on a squeeze bunt by Riley Knott.

 “We knew she’d get it down,” Kelly said, praising Knott’s bat control. I just told Marley Sarafinko, ‘as soon as they pitch, just take off.’

“We needed that run.”

Adams, who finished with 10 strikeouts, got the first two outs of the fifth before an error opened the door for another run.

Tasker’s RBI single made it 2-0 and the Comets held off the Lady Patriots when they got all five of their runners to scoring position over the final three innings.

“It was tough,” Kelly said. “Pittston’s a class team. They won the state last year. You know they’re not going to give up without a fight.”

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