NANTICOKE — The Pittston Area girls didn’t get a runner to third base until the seventh inning. But when they did, they made it count.
Kristin Roselle’s bases-loaded shot to right field drove in two runs in the top of the seventh inning to break a scoreless tie. Meanwhile, Kylie Herbert fired seven innings of shutout softball, allowing just six hits, to lead Pittston Area to a 2-0 win over Nanticoke in the opening round of the District 16 Major Girls Softball tournament.
Pittston Area advances to face Mountain Top, 11-0 winners over Northwest, in the double elimination tournament on Wednesday in Mountain Top. Nanticoke will play the loser of the Pittston Area-Mountain Top game Friday at either Mountain Top or Pittston Area.
Thanks to Herbert’s pitching and Pittston Area’s stout defense, Nanticoke had just two runners reach second until the sixth inning. Herbert struck out 12 batters, including striking out the side in the third. Seven of Nanticoke’s first nine outs were by way of strikeout.
“She works hard and she kept her composure,” Pittston Area coach Jeff Herbert said. “She got in a couple tough situations but she pitched a great game. She did well.”
Nanticoke coach Colleen Baird wasn’t sure why her girls couldn’t put a run across, but praised Herbert on the way she pitched.
“I don’t know if it was because we weren’t ready for it or what,” Baird said. “We couldn’t get the timing down. We need to improve the way we are hitting. Hopefully we’ll do that.”
Not to be outdone by Herbert’s pitching, Nanticoke’s Jessica Skladzien was just as effective. Skladzien allowed just four hits and struck out six in her outing. She allowed just two hits through the first six innings.
“She pitched phenomenal,” Baird said. “It was pitching duel and both defenses played well. Jess was hitting her spots today.”
Madisyn Antal singled to lead off the seventh inning for Pittston Area. Antal stole second and a bunt single from Herbert put runners on first and third. After Nicole Dennis reached on an error, Abi Bauman popped out to third. With the bases loaded and one out, Nanticoke got Syra Reza grounded into a fielder’s choice where Antal was out at home.
That set the stage for Roselle.
Jeff admitted Roselle was nervous when she came to the plate. With two outs, however, Roselle lifted one to right-center that fell. Herbert and Dennis scored.
“I knew she was nervous but she looked like she was excited,” Jeff said. “The reason we couldn’t score runs is because (Skladzien) pitched a heck of a game as well.”
Nanticoke’s best chance to score came in the bottom of the sixth with any run ending the game. With one out, Gabby Rakowski and Jennifer Kurkoski hit back-to-back singles. After Herbert got a strikeout, Lauren Mullery walked to load the bases with two outs. Riley Baird bounced one off the plate. Herbert raced to the ball in front of the circle and fired home. Catcher Antal made the play to extend the game.
Heading into Wednesday’s game with Mountain Top, Jeff knows his players can hit. He just needs them to know they can it.
“We need a little more confidence at the plate and go up there without the nerves,” he said. “It was the first game and we got the jitters out.”
Back Mountain 11, Northwest 0, 4 inns.
The pitching combination of Sidney Hornlein and Abby Jane helped Back Mountain hold Northwest to a single hit in four innings. Kaci Hockenberry had two singles during the game, while Alison Francis and Riley Wren doubled for Back Mountian.
Wyoming Area 7, West Side 1
Kari Melberger threw a one-hitter and had a triple during the Wyoming Area win. Nicole Silinskie, Caitlyn Slusser, Megan Askew and Evans Freeman all scored in the fourth inning for Wyoming Area.