By Nick Wagner
DALLAS — Back Mountain’s Sydney Hornlein ran into some trouble in the final inning.
Greater Wyoming Area scored three runs off Hornlein in the top of the sixth. But the Back Mountain pitcher’s work in the first five innings proved to be the difference.
Hornlein allowed no runs on just three hits in the first five innings to lead Back Mountain to a 6-3 win over Greater Wyoming Area in the District 31 Major Girls Softball bracket on Wednesday. Back Mountain advances to the winner’s bracket final and will play the GWA-West Side winner on Sunday, June 28 for the championship.
Greater Wyoming Area falls in the bracket and will face West Side at 6 p.m. on Friday at Flack Field in Wyoming. West Side was a 13-2 winner of Northwest on Wednesday.
When Hornlein found herself in trouble in the sixth, coach Larry Egan went to the mound. Hornlein proceeded to get the next two GWA batters out with ease.
“Sydney pitched a great game,” Egan said. “At this level with having a lot of common teammates from other teams it’s tough mentally. She let herself do what she knows how to do and that’s pitch.”
In the opposing dugout, Greater Wyoming Area coach Tom Harden watched his pitcher toss a “great” game.
GWA’s Stephanie Nowak worked back-to-back 1-2-3 innings in the second and third after giving up two runs in the first. Her line finished at five innings, giving up six runs and striking out three. She gave up seven hits.
“Stephanie pitched a great game but they were able to string together a few hits toward the end of the game,” Harden said. “I thought we played as a team and our bats came alive late. We just didn’t have enough.”
Some defensive miscues and some timely hitting by Back Mountain in the fourth proved to be the difference.
Back Mountain scored three runs on four hits and two GWA errors. With one out, Kaci Hockenberry and Julia Kocher hit back-to-back singles. Madyson Pendolphi then drove in Hockenberry. A throwing error allowed Kocher to score. Pendolphi eventually scored on Alison Francis’ single.
“It’s not a matter of how well you hit or how much you hit,” Egan said. “We always tell the girls to be patient and get on base. We’ll play small ball or hit for power.”
Although down 6-0 heading to the sixth, GWA didn’t give in.
Nicole Silinskie led off with a single to right. Kaitlyn Slusser’s triple down the right field line plated Silinskie. After Kari Melberger and Evan Freeman walked to load the bases, Lily Harden and Megan Askew each brought home runners with fielder’s choices.
“I cannot tell you how proud I am of these girls,” Harden said. “Not one of them thought we were done. Going forward, they know what they have to do.”
Back Mountain’s two runs in the first came when Lyndsey Hornlein doubled home Francis. Later, Emily Smith’s infield single brought home Hornlein.
Back Mountain tacked on a run in the fifth when Hockenberry’s double plated pinch runner Emily Smith.
“I can’t find any faults in the way we played today,” Egan said. “We have a very good fielding team and we have hitters that get the job done.”
West Side 13, Northwest 2
West Side topped Northwest with help from Makayla Kobusky, who pitched a complete game and struck out nine batters to record the win. Teammates Morgan Kobusky and Kiley Harden each had two hits.
Pittston Area 18, Mountain Top 1
Kylie Herbert and Kaehler Kivler combined for a no hitter as Pittston Area defeated Mountain Top.
Kivler had three hits, including a home run and a triple, while Herbert chipped in with three singles. Nikki Dennis and Madisyn Antal each had two singles and Abi Bauman recorded a single and a double for Pittston Area. Karla Derr scored the lone run for Mountain Top.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick