BLOOMSBURG — Sometimes when a team can’t catch a break and nothing seems to be going right, the coaches and players realize that it’s just not their day.
That was the case for the Tunkhannock softball team on Thursday in the PIAA Class 4A quarterfinals at Central Columbia High School.
The Tigers ran into a tough pitcher and a hot-hitting, slick-fielding Bethlehem Catholic squad, coming out on the wrong end of a 4-1 decision.
Tunkhannock, which advanced to the state championship game a year ago, sees its season come to an end after losing many key players to graduation from that squad. But the team has plenty of positives going forward with just one graduating senior on this year’s team.
Bethlehem Catholic advances to the state semis and will face Nanticoke on Monday at a site and time to be announced.
“We played hard and I’m proud of the girls for what they accomplished this year, and luckily for us we’re only losing one senior,” Tigers coach Bob Hegedty said. “And we’ll be looking to bounce back next year and hopefully get back to Penn State (for the state final).”
Even though the Tigers got on the board first in the top of the first on an RBI double by Hailey Farr for a 1-0 lead, the Golden Hawks answered back with two in the bottom of the inning on four straight one-out hits. That started a trend of unlucky circumstances for Tunkhannock.
In the second inning, the Tigers got a single from Mackayla Quick, who was trying to stretch the hit into a double. She appeared to have escaped the tag by the Golden Hawks second baseman but was called out.
In the fifth inning, Erin Dunn laced a one-out double to center, but she was stranded on second and was the last baserunner the team had in the game.
In the sixth, Tunkhannock went down 1-2-3 on three pitches, but all three outs were hard-hit grounders to infielders who made diving plays. All three were destined for the outfield and could have started a rally.
“When we come out and they’re making diving plays for outs at first, it got to be a little disheartening, but we have to keep battling to the end,” Hegedty said.
The Tigers were held to just five hits by Tatum Kresley, who has verbally committed to play at Division I Rider. Kresley only struck out three but kept the Tigers off-balance, inducing several weakly hit pop-ups and groundballs.
“She’s a nice pitcher. She throws well. I think we can handle her. There wasn’t any question about that,” Hegedty said. “We just didn’t come up with the plays when we needed to.”
On defense, the Tigers normally rely on solid play, but the team committed three errors with two of them leading to runs. They were also hurt by a triple past first base that appeared to be foul that led off the bottom of the fifth and scored two batters later. Becahi tallied 11 hits on the evening, including six with runners in scoring position.
“They have a good team. They’re aggressive on the bases, they move the ball, they move runners and got some timely hits which we couldn’t do,” Hegedty noted. “We had some kids in scoring position a few times and just couldn’t get them across the plate.”
PIAA Class 4A QUARTERFINALS
Bethlehem Catholic 4, Tunkhannock 1
FJones ss `3`0`0`0
Schultz 2b` 3`1`1`0
Roote dp` 2`0`0`0
Jimenez rf `4`2`2`0
Pannuccio cf` 3`0`2`1
Tunkhannock`100`000`0 — 1
Beth. Catholic `200`011`x — 4
2B — Jimenez, Miner, Sledz, Farr, Dunn. 3B — Jimenez
H. Jones (L) `2.0`6`2`2`0`2
Kresley (W) `7.0`5`1`0`1`3