STATE COLLEGE — No doubt the opportunities were there for Tunkhannock on Thursday afternoon.
Bases loaded with no one out in the fifth inning. Same thing in the sixth.
The result — one run. The aftermath — no state softball championship.
Instead, Mount Pleasant put Tunkhannock in catch-up mode for the first time in the postseason and held off a couple comeback bids by the District 2 champion for a 5-3 victory in the PIAA Class 4A title game at Penn State University.
District 7 third seed Mount Pleasant finished its season at 17-3. Tunkhannock ended 19-6. Both were playing for state softball championships for the first time.
“It was tough being a senior and ending my career here losing by two runs,” said Tunkhannock left fielder Sarah Traver, who doubled twice and scored a run. “But we played a great game. We hit the ball hard, but they made some great plays and hit the ball hard as well.”
Tunkhannock just didn’t hit the ball at some critical times.
Down 5-2 in the fifth, Hope Jones, Faith Jones and Paige Mokychic opened the inning with singles to load the bases. Three outs later, Mount Pleasant starter Carolyn Alincic was out of the jam and Tunkhannock was still behind by three runs.
The Tigers did the same to start the sixth. Danielle Krispin singled to left, Hailey Farr reached on a fielder’s choice and Jenn Bulford bunted her way aboard. Just like that, the Tigers had the bases loaded again with no outs. Little came from it.
Hope Jones lifted a sacrifice fly to center to score Krispin to cut the deficit to 5-3. But even a Mount Pleasant error couldn’t help Tunkhannock.
“We weren’t getting timely hits,” Tunkhannock coach Bob Hegedty said. “We got kids on base and I think we pounded out 10 hits today against a good, solid pitching staff they had. We just couldn’t get our hits strung together. We had bases loaded in the fifth inning and sixth inning. We just couldn’t get that timely hit.”
Tunkhannock went quietly in the seventh, being retired in order for the first time all game.
“Our motto coming into this game was it’s OK to have those butterflies,” Mount Pleasant coach Lauren Shaheen said. “You should use that in the game, not shy away from it. Yes, it is a big game but just another game against another good team.”
Mount Pleasant had just one hit in the third — a dribbler in front of the plate by Sydney Kanuch to start the inning — yet scored three runs. A walk and two errors proved costly as the Vikings took a 3-0 lead and put Tunkhannock behind for the first time in seven postseason games.
“We never got down,” said Mokychic, Tunkhannock’s senior center fielder who was 9 for 14 in the postseason. “We fought to the end. That was amazing.”
Mokychic had an RBI double in the bottom of the third and Farr knocked in another in the fourth with a double to move Tunkhannock within 3-2.
Mount Pleasant, though, got the runs back in the fifth on consecutive doubles by Ava Gnibus and Addy Kubosky followed by a triple by Chloe Poulich.
Besides Traver and Mokychic, other starters playing their final game for Tunkhannock were Krispin and Jenn Bulford. The remaining starters have two more years left.
“We feel good,” Hegedty said. “Obviously, it’s tough getting out of our districts. We played in a really tough Wyoming Valley Conference. We’ll try to win that then the district and maybe back out here next year, hopefully.
“We have the core of our kids back and some nice kids coming up who will need to step up and fill some big shoes.”
PIAA 4A Championship
Mt. Pleasant 5, Tunkhannock 3
E: Mt. Pleasant 1, Tunkhannock 2, DP: Tunkhannock 2. LOB: Mt. Pleasant 7, Tunkhannock 10. 2B: Gnibus, Kubosky, Traver 2 , Mokychic, Farr. 3B: Poulich. SAC: Czegan
HBP: H.Jones (by Alincic)