BERWICK — Pittston Area’s road to the winner’s bracket final was an easy one.
In the opening round of the Pennsylvania Section 5 Senior Softball tournament, Pittston Area whipped past Elk County, 14-2, on Wednesday, July 15. Just two days later, however, the tables were turned on the hometown team.
Bristol Borough, a team out of District 10 just north of Philadelphia, took down Pittston Area, 12-2 in five innings, on Friday, July 17 to advance to the state championship game. The locals still had a chance to reach the title as they played the winner of the Pocono Mountain East-Wellsboro game on Saturday, July 18. The results of the game weren’t available at press time.
If Pittston Area won Saturday, it would play Bristol Borough at 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 19. The locals would have to beat Bristol twice for the title and to advance to the East Region Championships.
Pittston Area’s lone win thus far in the state tournament was a rout of Elk County. Pitcher Nina Cencetti had a perfect game through three innings. She finished the complete game by allowing just three hits and striking out eight. With the bat, Cencetti finished 4-for-5 with a triple, two RBI and a run scored.
“This was a lot of fun today,” Cencetti said following Wednesday’s win. “The speed was just the way I like it. Once I saw the first strike, I knew it was going to be a good day.”
Pittston Area pounded out 14 hits against Elk County. Mindina Lieback, Alexa McHugh, Abbey Bradigan and Jordan Cegelka each had two hits. McHugh and Bradigan each finished with two RBI.
It was somewhat of a slow start for Pittston Area. The team left four runners stranded in the first two innings, not capitalizing on their opportunities. But things began to open up in the fourth.
“We wanted to keep the pressure on them and we told the kids eventually the hits would fall,” Pittston Area coach Vito Quaglia said. “I knew eventually our bats would warm up and they did. Everyone contributed and we were on today.”
With a 3-0 lead thanks to a Cencetti single and a Kerry Shamnoski hit, Pittston Area scored four more runs in the fourth inning. Cegelka led off the inning with a double to left followed by a single from Lieback. McHugh then brought home Cegelka before another Cencetti single brought home Taylor Baloga.
“We have to make sure we get quality at-bats and quality outs,” Quaglia said. “If you get out that’s fine, but we had some bad swings today so we’ll work on that.”
Pittston Area’s biggest blow came in the sixth when the team sent 11 batters to the plate. Bradigan had a two-run single, Rachel Kochanowski had a run-scoring walk and Dominique Quaglia drove in a run with a sacrifice bunt. Thanks to two Elk County errors, Pittston Area score seven runs.
On Friday, however, Alyssa Adams had Pittston Area’s number all game.
The Bristol pitcher threw five innings giving up just six hits and limited the Pittston Area offense all game. At the plate, Adams was 2-for-2 with two home runs and four RBIs. She hit two-run home runs in her first two at-bats before walking in her final two at-bats.
Bristol’s Jade Stevens also hit a two-run homer in the win.
For Pittston Area, Dominique Quaglia and Lauren Gronka each had RBI singles for the team’s only runs. Lieback contributed a double, while Bradigan and Shamnoski also had hits.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick