Holy Redeemer softball advances to Class 3A state title game

By John Erzar - [email protected]
Olivia Murray chases down a fly ball to right-center for a tough catch in the top of the fourth inning on Monday. - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
Holy Redeemer senior pitcher Morgan Bienkowski tossed a one-hitter against North Schuylkill in a PIAA 3A semifinal game on Monday at Central Columbia. - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
Tiana Wren reached base in the bottom of the fourth and ultimately came around to score what proved to be the game’s winning run. - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
Grace Dacey slides under the tag of North Schuylkill catcher Kira Marlow to score Holy Redeemer’s second run of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning in Monday’s PIAA Class 3A semifinals at Central Columbia. - - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

BLOOMSBURG — Gaining a different perspective on softball, Holy Redeemer catcher Tiana Wren knew when the ball got past her North Schuylkill counterpart, it was time to dash home.

Wren ended up scoring the only run the Royals would need, although they added another, to advance to the PIAA Class 3A championship game.

That’s because once again pitcher Morgan Bienkowski clamped down another opposing offense, throwing a one-hitter with 11 strikeouts as Redeemer defeated North Schuylkill 2-0 in the state semifinals at Central Columbia High School.

District 2 champion Redeemer (20-2) will play for a state title for the third time in four years, having won the Class 2A championships in 2015 and 2016 when the PIAA had only four classifications. The Royals will face D6 champion Philipsburg-Osceola (24-1) at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Nittany Lion Softball Park at Penn State University. Philipsburg-Osceola defeated D7 champ Southmoreland 15-4 in the other semifinal.

Wren played center field for Redeemer the past two years before shifting to catcher. The new position meant she had to look at things differently. So once a pitch eluded North Schuylkill catcher Kira Marlow in the fourth inning, Wren knew she could score rather easily.

“You see how big the backstop is and you take that into consideration when you’re catching,” Wren said. “It got so far out to the left side, I knew I had a whole bunch of time to get there.”

Wren got on base on a third-strike wild pitch to start the inning. She stole second and an out later made it to third when McKenna Dolan singled up the middle.

Redeemer tacked on another run in the fifth when Grace Dacey singled, was sacrificed to second and scored on Bienkowski’s double to right-center.

Bienkowski had two of Redeemer’s four hits. Bailey McDermott added the other in the third inning as the Royals had trouble solving North Schuylkill pitcher Haley Burd. Burd finished with 13 strikeouts, including the rare feat of fanning Bienkowski and Wren looking in the same inning.

“I think what she threw was something a little different than what they were ready to see,” Redeemer coach Jerry Paulukonis said. “She worked the outside of the plate really well.”

Wren had struck out once all season; Bienkowski not at all.

“I feel like she’s one of the better pitchers we’ve faced,” Bienkowski said. “We haven’t faced pitchers with a lot of spin on the ball. Hanover, (Kasidy) Slusser and (Sarah) Tuzinski had a lot of spin on the ball. This one had a riseball and we haven’t seen a pitcher with a really good riseball in a while. We had to make the adjustments.”

Redeemer was able to do so just enough. D11 championship North Schuylkill (25-3) wasn’t.

The Spartans had three baserunners all game. Two were in the second when Marlow recorded her team’s only hit and Schuyler Ossman followed with a walk. Bienkowski battled back to retire 10 in a row before issuing a walk to Danni Holmes to start the seventh.

PIAA CLASS 3A SEMIFINALS

Holy Redeemer 2, North Schuylkill 0

N.Schuylkill`AB`R`H`BI

Ossman ss`2`0`0`0

Ryan lf`3`0`0`0

Holmes 3b`2`0`0`0

Burd p`3`0`0`0

Guerrero cf`3`0`0`0

Stitzer 1b`2`0`0`0

Sacco rf`2`0`0`0

Kessler 2b`2`0`0`0

Marlow c`2`0`1`0

Totals`21`0`1`0

Redeemer`AB`R`H`BI

Bienkowski p`3`0`2`1

Rajza ss`3`0`0`0

Wren c`2`1`0`0

Josefowicz 1b`3`0`0`0

Dolan 2b`3`0`1`0

Laiuvara cf`3`0`0`0

Skoronski 3b`3`0`0`0

Dacey lf`1`1`0`0

McDermott dp`1`0`1`0

Murray rf`0`0`0`0

Totals`22`2`4`1

North Schuylkill`000`000`0 — 0

Holy Redeemer`000`110`x — 2

E — North Schuylkill 2. LOB — North Schuylkill 3, Redeemer 5. 2B — Bienkowski. SAC — McDermott. SB — Wren, Dolan.

N.Schuylkill`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Burd L`6.0`4`2`1`2`13

Redeemer`IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO

Bienkowski W`7.0`1`0`0`2`11

Olivia Murray chases down a fly ball to right-center for a tough catch in the top of the fourth inning on Monday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_HR-N-Schuylkill-Softball-2-1.jpgOlivia Murray chases down a fly ball to right-center for a tough catch in the top of the fourth inning on Monday. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Holy Redeemer senior pitcher Morgan Bienkowski tossed a one-hitter against North Schuylkill in a PIAA 3A semifinal game on Monday at Central Columbia.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_HR-N-Schuylkill-Softball-1.jpgHoly Redeemer senior pitcher Morgan Bienkowski tossed a one-hitter against North Schuylkill in a PIAA 3A semifinal game on Monday at Central Columbia. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Tiana Wren reached base in the bottom of the fourth and ultimately came around to score what proved to be the game’s winning run.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_HR-N-Schuylkill-Softball-3.jpgTiana Wren reached base in the bottom of the fourth and ultimately came around to score what proved to be the game’s winning run. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Grace Dacey slides under the tag of North Schuylkill catcher Kira Marlow to score Holy Redeemer’s second run of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning in Monday’s PIAA Class 3A semifinals at Central Columbia.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_HR-N-Schuylkill-Softball-4.jpgGrace Dacey slides under the tag of North Schuylkill catcher Kira Marlow to score Holy Redeemer’s second run of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning in Monday’s PIAA Class 3A semifinals at Central Columbia. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
Redeemer advances to Class 3A state title game

By John Erzar

[email protected]

Reach John Erzar at 570-991-6394 or on Twitter @TLJohnErzar

Reach John Erzar at 570-991-6394 or on Twitter @TLJohnErzar