Jun. 4—WILKES-BARRE — Holy Redeemer robbed her of a game-tying two-run single in the third.
Mid Valley’s Lindsey Jason made sure that wouldn’t happen in the fifth.
The first-team, all-state shortstop crushed a two-run homer that gave the Spartanettes the lead, and Maranda Runco and her teammates shut down Holy Redeemer after a two-run third, rallying to win the District 2 Class 3A softball title, 4-2, on Thursday afternoon at Casey Park.
“I was confident coming into it,” said Jason, all-state as a freshman. “I knew I was going to make solid contact. My second at-bat was just unfortunate, so I was super confident going into it that I’d get a good hit.”
With runners at second and third, Jason whistled a line drive off the left shin of Holy Redeemer pitcher Jenna Santuk, but the ricochet to second baseman Peyton Parker was so hard that Jason was out by two steps.
No chance of that the next time. She mashed a 1-1 pitch over the trees beyond the left-field fence, scoring courtesy runner Abbie Larson, who was on board after Holy Redeemer (14-1) issued one of its three intentional walks to Runco, who came into the game with 17 homers and a .682 batting average.
It’s a decision Royals coach Jerry Paulukonis stuck by after the game.
“That was our game plan going in,” Paulukonis said. “Don’t let one player beat you and let the cards fall as they may.
“Me and Mike (Mid Valley coach Piercy) get along fantastic and we know each other so well. He knew I was walking Maranda. It’s only common sense.”
This time, the strategy backfired.
“That’s it,” Paulukonis said. “That’s all you can do.”
Through four innings, Mid Valley (19-2) had three good scoring chances, each ending with a hard-hit ball at a Holy Redeemer player.
“After the first four innings, we hit three balls hard that were caught that would have been runs, and in the back of your head, you’re thinking maybe it’s not our day,” Piercy said. “But credit to our kids. They just kept persevering and then they didn’t quit.”
Finally, Emma Kobylanski, who fanned in her prior at bat, lofted a towering fly that just stayed fair and just cleared the left-field fence to pull Mid Valley within 2-1.
“I felt really confident the next time,” Kobylanski said of her second homer of the season. “I just felt like I had to be a little bit more selective the next time. I just swung the best that I could and I knew that was a pitch that I could drive.
“Honestly, I didn’t think it was out at first. I thought it was way too high. Then I heard everybody cheering and I was really excited.”
The blast infused Mid Valley with a needed jolt and Jason kept it going.
“As soon as Emma hit that, it was like the whole mood of the game changed,” Jason said. “Before, we were down a little bit, a little upset that we weren’t where we should be.
“When Emma hit that, the whole atmosphere changed. I guess I just fed off Emma’s energy and I got to show that in my at-bat. When I got up I knew it was going to be a vital part of the game.”
The intentional walk to Runco brought Jason to the plate as the go-ahead run.
“As soon as they walked Maranda I was really excited, and I love every time Maranda does get walked because that’s an extra girl on base that we can hit in,” Jason said.
It happened again in the seventh when Kobylanski drew a leadoff walk and Runco was passed intentionally again, the fourth time the Royals put her on base.
“It is sad. I love hitting,” Runco said. “When I don’t get to hit that just means that my other girls get the chance to hit and they did. They did and they hit two home runs and we were all excited.”
A two-out walk to Jason loaded the bases for Chiara Zavislak, who lined an RBI single to center for an insurance run for Runco, who yielded just three hits, two in the third inning.
Holy Redeemer’s Olivia Murray cracked a one-out single to center and Akira Kopec lasered a ball off the top of the fence in left for an RBI double.
It was the last hit for Holy Redeemer, which added its final run on Lynzie Skoronski’s RBI grounder.
“If a pitch gets away from you and gets over the meat of the plate, anybody can hit it hard,” Paulukonis said. “We had our inning where she pitched some balls over the middle of the plate and we hit it hard.”
Mid Valley got its turn in the fifth and also took advantage.
“We have a lot of confidence in (Kobylanski and Jason) and they battled and had great at-bats in the biggest spot of the season,” Piercy said.
Runco struck out just five, but also faced the minimum hitters over her final 4 2/3 innings, including a five-pitch seventh to send the Spartanettes into the state tournament Monday against the District 4 champ, the winner of Saturday’s final between Loyalsock and Central Columbia.
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