By Nick Wagner
JENKINS TWP. — Mindina Lieback was named an all-state player during the high school season when she led Pittston Area to one of its best seasons in recent memory.
Now, she’s leading the Pittston Area senior little league team to familiar heights.
Lieback had two hits and scored four runs while playing a solid game behind the plate to lift Pittston Area to an 11-2 win against North Wilkes-Barre in the District 16 Little League Senior Softball championship game Thursday at Jenkins Township Little League field.
For the second straight season, Pittston Area will advance to the Sectional Tournament where it will face Old Forge on Wednesday, July 7 in Jenkins Township. In 2014, Pittston Area won Sectionals and advanced to the state tournament.
“Mindina was the spark plug,” said Pittston Area coach Vito Quaglia, who is also the head coach of the Pittston Area high school team. “We got a couple people on and we started to poke some in and let them drop. They had some miscues and we were able to break it open.”
Dominique Quaglia pitched a complete game and limited North Wilkes-Barre throughout the game. Dominique is one of four pitchers on the Pittston Area team. Three of those pitchers, however, had travel ball commitments and weren’t available Wednesday.
It was up to Quaglia to take charge in the circle.
“We’re fortunate to have so many pitchers,” Vito said. “I have four good pitchers and we only had Dominique. She’s been there before.”
Quaglia forced North Wilkes-Barre into 16 ground ball outs.
“She let her defense work,” Vito said.
Loren Gronka and Abbey Bradigan each had two hits for the winners. Bradigan drove in two runs and scored twice in the win.
DISTRICT 16 JUNIOR SOFTBALL
Nanticoke cruised to the District 16 Junior Softball final. In its first two games, the team outscored opponents, 29-4, including an 11-2 win over Pittston Area.
The locals certainly turned things around in the district final, but it wasn’t enough.
Nanticoke edged Pittston Area, 6-5, to claim the District 16 Little League Junior Softball Championship Thursday in Nanticoke. Pittston Area would have had to beat Nanticoke twice to cop the crown.
Brianna Pizzano struck out 12 batters and had one hit at the plate while Lexi Selinski and Bailey Loyack each had two hits for Pittston Area. Shayla Williams and Gabby Stone each had a hit.
In the opening round, Nanticoke beat Pittston Area, 11-2. Tinsley Sarnak had four strikeouts and went 2-for-4 from the plate. Bailey Loyack, Pizzano, Selinski and Williams each singled in the loss.
Bailey Loyack hit three singles and scored three runs in Pittston Area’s 14-4 win over Plains. Alyvia Cook had two hits and scored four runs and Williams registered two hits and scored two runs.
DISTRICT 16 MAJOR SOFTBALL
Greater Pittston needed to win one of two games against Nanticoke to win the District 16 title; however, Nanticoke rallied off two straight wins to claim the championship.
Greater Pittston took down Nanticoke to open the tournament, then beat Mountain Top to advance to the winners bracket final.
In the first game, Nanticoke’s Jessica Skladzien pitched a shutout. Greater Pittston’s Kaehley Kivler and Madisyn Antal each singled. Kylie Herbert struck out 12 in the loss.
In the championship game, Nanticoke rallied with eight runs in the final two innings to win, 10-5, and grab the District 16 championship on Wednesday.
Winning pitcher Skladzien struck out seven. She also had two hits.
Kivler had a triple and single for Pittston. Syra Reza had two doubles and Antal had two singles. Herbert had a single and struck out seven.
With the loss, Greater Pittston was eliminated from play.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick