By Nick Wagner
Pittston Area couldn’t have played two games more differently than they did this week.
In the opening week of the District 16 Major Girls softball tournament, Pittston Area showed it can win a close game with defense, and pour on the offense. The local girls picked up two wins, which advances them to the winners bracket final at 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 28 at Duryea Little League field.
Pittston Area will face Nanticoke in the final. Nanticoke was a 18-0 winner over Mountain Top on Friday.
In two games thus far, Pittston Area has allowed just one run.
“Our pitchers have been fantastic as far as not giving up free bases,” Pittston Area coach Jeff Herbert said.
Most recently, Pittston Area took care of business against Mountain Top Wednesday.
Kylie Herbert and Kaehler Kivler combined for a no hitter in an 18-1 win over Mountain Top. But it what the duo did at the plate was just as impressive.
Kivler had three hits, including a home run and a triple, while Herbert chipped in with three singles.
“(Kivler) is an all around solid player at the plate and in the field,” Jeff Herbert said. “Mountain Top used three pitchers but we were able to square the ball up a little better.”
Nikki Dennis and Madisyn Antal each had two singles, and Abi Bauman recorded a single and a double for Pittston Area. Pittston Area pounded out 17 hits.
The game of the week, however, came when Pittston Area took on Nanticoke in the first game of the postseason.
Kristin Roselle’s bases-loaded shot to right field drove in two runs in the top of the seventh inning to break a scoreless tie. Meanwhile, Kylie Herbert fired seven innings of shutout softball, allowing just six hits, to lead Pittston Area to a 2-0 win over Nanticoke.
Thanks to Herbert’s pitching and Pittston Area’s stout defense, Nanticoke had just two runners reach second until the sixth inning. Herbert struck out 12 batters, including striking out the side in the third. Seven of Nanticoke’s first nine outs were by way of strikeout.
Antal singled to lead off the seventh inning for Pittston Area. She stole second and a bunt single from Herbert put runners on first and third. After Dennis reached on an error, Abi Bauman popped out to third. With the bases loaded and one out, Nanticoke got Syra Reza grounded into a fielder’s choice where Antal was out at home.
That set the stage for Roselle.
Jeff Herbert admitted Roselle was nervous when she came to the plate. With two outs, however, Roselle lifted one to right-center that fell. Herbert and Dennis scored.
“I knew she was nervous but she looked like she was excited,” Jeff said. “The reason we couldn’t score runs is because (Skladzien) pitched a heck of a game as well.”
Through two games, Antal has thrown out five runners trying to steal. Pittston Area will look to turn in another defensive game to get by Nanticoke.
“We need to score before the seventh inning,” Jeff Herbert asked. “Nanticoke did a couple things that kept our hitters off balance. That’s what we’re preparing for.”
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick