By Tom Robinson, NEPASportsNation.com
SCRANTON – Bailey White’s throw slowed a rally.
Her hit stopped the game.
White led off the bottom of the seventh inning by lining a home run to left-center field Thursday night, bringing an end to Lackawanna’s 7-6 victory over Luzerne in a senior softball all-star game at Connell Park.
The recent Abington Heights graduate, who is considering continuing in the sport as a walk-on at the University of Delaware, was named Most Valuable Player of the Lackawanna team.
Berwick’s Katie Starr, who drove in two runs and scored the tying run in a comeback from an early 5-0 deficit, was named Luzerne MVP. It is her second such award of the summer after also being selected for her team in the Robert L. Dolbear Wyoming Valley Conference Senior Softball All-Star Game.
Luzerne seemed to have the momentum, scoring in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to force a tie and retiring five straight Lackawanna batters before White started the seventh inning with a bang.
“Shout out to E.J. Weston, the Valley View coach,” White said of one of the coaches in the Lackawanna dugout. “He told me to close my eyes and picture me doing something big in the last inning. I imagined a ball hit out of the park in left-center.
“So, I think he’s psychic and that’s why it went where it did. I’m really grateful for all the back-up, all the motivation, everybody’s smiles and support. There was so much positivity today.”
There were several hard-hit and deep shots in the game, but White’s was the first to leave the park. She got a glove on one ball at the fence in center that she was not able to bring down, but may have prevented from being a home run.
“I was pretty sure, but I had also seen two or three hard-hit balls that didn’t make it,” said White, who also pointed out that she had never put a ball over a 225-foot fence during her high school career.
Luzerne also had near misses of another form.
White and Emory Bewley each threw out runners at the plate in the middle of the Luzerne rally.
Abington Heights teammate Rachel McDonald joined White in giving Lackawanna a fast start.
Rachel Daub from Honesdale led off the bottom of the first with a single.
North Pocono’s Emily Blaine grounded into a fielder’s choice and replaced Daub on the bases.
Old Forge’s Olivia Shimonis singled.
White then doubled to the left-field fence, scoring Blaine and putting two runners in scoring position.
Following the second out of the inning, McDonald ripped a single to right field for two runs and a 3-0 lead.
Lackawanna added two more runs in the second when Daub, Blaine and Scranton’s McNally all singled. The two runs were unearned, scoring with the help of an infield throwing error on what could have been the inning’s last out.
Erin McGee from Holy Cross pitched the first two innings, retiring all six batters, then returned to the circle for the final 1 2/3, again holding Luzerne scoreless. She gave up two hits and struck out one while earning the win.
The score remained at 5-0 until the fourth when Luzerne got its offense going on the second time through the batting order after Scranton’s Jianna Booth had combined with McGee to retire the first 10.
The Hazleton Area combination of Julia Mrochko and Olivia Wolk got it started with singles.
One run scored on a passed ball and the other came in on a sacrifice fly off of Starr’s deep line drive to center.
Four infield errors allowed Luzerne to score again and cut the deficit to 5-3 in the fifth.
The errors could have led to a disastrous inning for Lackawanna, but they were countered by the defensive play of the game.
With runners on second and third, none out and one run already in, White had time to handle a flyball by Wyoming Area’s Kaitlyn Slusser.
As she moved in and to her left, White called off the right fielder, got herself around on the ball and fired home to Daub, who held on through a collision with Berwick’s Mackenzie Waltman.
“I automatically assumed it was going to be an aggressive play,” White said, pointing to the earlier base-running approach by Luzerne. “ … Everything worked out the way I wanted to although it was a little lower (throw) than I wanted. Thank goodness for Rachel Daub … she did a really good job, she got absolutely nailed, but she stayed in it.”
Lackawanna got a run back in the fifth when Elk Lake’s Olivia Voll reached on an error to lead off, moved up on a single by Blue Ridge’s Katie White and scored on a sacrifice fly by Mountain View’s Emory Bewley.
Luzerne tied the game with three runs in the top of the sixth before Bewley threw out a runner at the plate from right field on Waltman’s single.
Steph Nowak got it started with a single.
Wolk doubled to the center-field fence with one out.
Starr singled in one run.
Wolk scored on a wild pitch and Starr came in on a wild throw in the infield.
Bailey White, Daub and Wolk were the only players in the game with two hits.
Selena Hoover from Lakeland and Morgan Faist also had hits for Lackawanna.
Kaitlyn Slusser from Wyoming Area had a hit in the seventh inning, but ended it stranded on second for Luzerne.
The game concluded the Lackawanna vs. Luzerne Baseball and Softball Senior All-Star Games at Connell Park. The doubleheader, presented by 570 Sports Show LLC, featured recent graduates of Lackawanna League and Wyoming Valley Conference schools, including those outside the two counties.