DALLAS TWP. – Taylor Baloga turned the 37th Robert Dolbear Senior All-Star Softball game into a personal showcase of both her power hitting and power pitching.
Baloga hit a grand slam and three-run homer while also striking out five batters in three scoreless innings as pitcher to earn East Most Valuable Player honors in the 15-2 rout of the West June 26 at the Back Mountain Little League field.
“Everybody’s ultimate goal out there was to get out and play in our high school uniforms one last time,” Baloga said. “We all graduated a few weeks ago.
“It was nice to get out there and get back in our uniforms one more time to represent our schools.”
The game also served as a transition for Baloga, who got her first chance to play with two future college teammates. Baloga will join Haylee Bobos and Mary Kate Penczkowski, both from Hanover Area, at Georgian Court University, an NCAA Division II school in Lakewood, New Jersey.
Bobos caught for Baloga and Penczkowski and drove in three runs to support the offense.
Baloga went 3-for-5 with two homers, three runs scored and eight RBI.
Penczkowski worked four innings to get the win. Baloga held the West hitless for the first two innings, then went back to the circle for the seventh inning and held the West scoreless again.
Baloga’s grand slam came with none out in the top of the first to open the scoring. She just missed a three-run home run in the first inning when Wyoming Area center fielder Bree Bednarski reached over the fence to make the catch for the third out, stopping the inning at eight runs.
“I knew I got under it a little bit,” said Baloga, who still wound up with a three-run shot in the fourth inning. “I knew Bree was a good athlete and is quick out there. I had a feeling she was going to catch it.”
Baloga’s all-star game performance completed a senior year in which she led a late-season surge, throwing a perfect game and another no-hitter, then helped Pittston Area reach the District 2 Class AAA championship game.
Two other Pittston Area players contributed to the East win along with a Holy Redeemer player from Pittston.
Julie Silinskie played right field. She had hits in her first two at-bats, scored a run in the first inning and stole a base.
Abby Bradigan played third base and scored a run.
Janowski, from Holy Redeemer, played second base.
All the East players played the entire seven innings because the team had exactly nine players.
The West was caught shorthanded by no-shows and needed help from West players in the field in order to cover every position.
The lack of players also left the West without a pitcher with recent experience.
Wyoming Area’s Vicki Remley took on the pitching challenge and was chosen MVP of her team.
“I’ve been pitching since second grade,” Remley said, “but I hadn’t pitched the last couple of seasons.
“This was my first time in three years. I wasn’t expecting it.”
After a rough first inning, Remley held the East scoreless in three of the remaining six.
Remley was one of four Warriors in the game.
Bednarski led off and was the top threat offensively for the West. She had hits her last three at-bats to finish 3-for-4 with two walks and a run scored.
Grace Gober started in left field and moved to catcher. She singled in the team’s only run in the bottom of the fourth and finished 1-for-4 with a walk.
Heather Nemetko played first base and went 1-for-5.
Remley was 0-for-5 with a walk and also reached base three times on fielder’s choices.
Pittston Area coach Vito Quaglia served as an assistant coach or the East.