Holy Redeemer pitcher Morgan Bienkowski struck out 635 batters during her high school career.
Now imagine what that number could have been if she was the Royals’ full-time pitcher all four years. Maybe 1,000 strikeouts? That’s not far-fetched.
During her senior season, Bienkowski fanned 290 batters in 141 innings as she became the sole pitcher Redeemer relied on in the circle. If that was the case the previous three seasons, then perhaps 1,000 strikeouts could have happened.
Bienkowski’s dominance as a pitcher, along with her superb season at the plate, made her the Times Leader Player of the Year. She was also selected to the Times Leader All-Wyoming Valley Conference first team for a fourth consecutive year.
Besides the 290 strikeouts, Bienkowski finished with an 18-1 record and an 0.50 ERA, while allowing just 43 hits and walking 20. She pitched four no-hitters, including two perfect games. She struck out 24 in a 10-inning victory over Wyoming Seminary.
At the plate, she hit .407 with five homers, 20 RBI, five doubles and two triples.
“This year, I took a lot of time, more than I did pitching, to practice hitting,” Bienkowski said. “I guess it developed more this year and I became more of a power hitter.”
Her career numbers as a pitcher: 333 innings pitched, 635 strikeouts, 0.57 ERA, 135 hits allowed and 48 walks. At the plate, she hit .432 with five homers, 69 RBI, 39 doubles, five triples and 102 runs.
“When I realized my strength as a pitcher, I started focusing on my hitting more so I could be an all-around athlete,” Bienkowski said.
Bienkowski leaves Redeemer with two state championships – in 2015 and 2016 at Class 2A – and a state runner-up finish this past season at Class 3A.
Bienkowski spent her first three seasons splitting time with Kristen Coffay in the circle. When one was pitching, the other was at shortstop. They flip-flopped the positions nearly every game.
This past season would be different. Coffay graduated and with no pitching partner, Bienkowski would have to carry the load.
“There was more responsibility put on me because I didn’t have any relief if I got in trouble,” Bienkowski said. “When Kristen got in trouble, I would come in. But I never had somebody who could relieve me if I got in a problem or a situation.”
Making her pitching even more critical was Redeemer was hit hard by graduation and the offense would be a work in progress. Still, Bienkowski kept kept the Royals in games – like the 24-strikeout performance against Seminary – while the offense matured.
Next stop for Bienkowski is Division I Binghamton University where she hopes to rack up strikeouts at the next level.
Joining Bienkowski on the All-WVC first team are:
C – Holy Redeemer
A three-time All-WVC selection, Wren moved from center field to catcher and continued her strong showing at the plate. She led the team with a .492 batting average, 27 RBI and seven home runs.
P/SS – Tunkhannock
The two-time All-WVC pick excelled in the circle by recording 145 strikeouts and a 1.35 ERA in 88.1 innings. Also hit .303 with three homers and a team-leading 26 RBI.
P/SS – Tunkhannock
Jones made her third appearance on the All-WVC team with a 11-1 record and 1.54 ERA as a pitcher. She also batted .389 with six doubles and stole five bases.
2B – Tunkhannock
The slick-fielding middle infielder was Tunkhannock top hitter with a .438 average. She added 11 RBI and four doubles.
1B/P – Pittston Area
The two-time All-WVC pick led her team in hitting once again with a .514 average. She was also first with 26 RBI and 12 doubles. She had a 5-3 record and a 2.03 ERA splitting time in the circle.
2B – Pittston Area
Felinski smacked a team-high six triples for the D2-5A champion. She also hit .465 with 15 RBI and five doubles.
SS – Hazleton Area
Like her sisters before her, Trivelpiece proved to be a dangerous weapon at the plate. She hit .448 with 32 RBI and a team-leading nine homers.
3B – Hazleton Area
The two-time All-WVC selection led her team in three major categories with a .600 batting average, 11 doubles and 34 RBI.
P – Nanticoke Area
Bohn concluded an excellent high school career by finishing her final season with a 1.24 ERA and 171 strikeouts. The two-time All-WVC pick also hit .378 with five home runs.
SS – Berwick
Starr was a big part in getting the Dawgs back to contenders. She hit .500 with 12 home runs, 23 RBI and scored 32 runs.
P/OF – Northwest
Harvey helped revitalize a stagnant program over the last two years. She batted .446 with five homers and 24 RBI. As a pitcher, she finished with a 1.52 ERA
3B – Wyoming Area
A veteran at the hot corner, Skok finished her career by leading the Warriors with a .433 average, 17 RBI and nine doubles.
P/SS – Wyoming Area
An All-WVC pick as a sophomore, Glatz bounced back with a .421 average, second best on the team, and eight RBI. She finished 7-5 with a 2.50 ERA and 53 strikeouts splitting pitching duties.
Coach of the Year
Although Paulukonis had Morgan Bienkowski pitching, he had to mold a young team that struggled at the plate early on. Redeemer finished 20-3 overall, ran its WVC Division 3 win streak to 76 games, won the District 2 Class 3A championship and finished the state runner-up in Class 3A.
Reach John Erzar at 570-991-6394 or on Twitter @TLJohnErzar