A pair of Greater Pittston athletes were named the top in their sport by the staff of the Times Leader.
Taylor Baloga, a pitcher for the Pittston Area softball team, was named the Times Leader Player of the Year for making the PA program a contender again. Wyoming Area’s Bree Bednarski, after winning three gold medals at the District 2 Track and Field Championships, was named the Times Leader Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Baloga and Pittston Area finished 15-8 this season, marking the first time since 2005 the program ended the year with a winning record. Baloga was the winning pitcher 11 times, posting a 1.60 ERA and striking out 124 and allowing just in 121.1 inning pitched. She pitched five shutouts, including a perfect game and a no-hitter. Opponents batted just .184, and she was the only pitcher to shutout Nanticoke.
Baloga finished with a record of 11-6, but two of the losses were by 2-1 scores where she allowed a total of one earned run.
At the plate, she batted .418 — second-best on the team — and led the Patriots with 24 RBI, five triples and four home runs. One homer was a grand slam. But pitching is where she made her mark. Her fastball as been clocked at 63 mph, which is equivalent to a 89 mph fastball in baseball.
Baloga started as a freshman and those early years weren’t always easy or productive. Sometimes the offense or defense wasn’t there in a game and she tried to compensate in the circle with varying results.
Bednarski won three gold medals and one silver at the District 2 Class 3A Track and Field Championships, sending her to Shippensburg to compete in four different events during the PIAA championships.
And to think track wasn’t even her main sport.
Bednarski is heading to the University of Michigan this fall on a full field hockey scholarship after leading the nation in prep scoring for most of the 2015 season before finishing third, while carrying the Warriors to their first-ever District 2 playoff victory.
A speedy outfielder in softball, she also batted leadoff as one of the top hitters in the Wyoming Valley Conference while helping the Warriors become a consistent District 2 playoff threat. Then Bednarski finished her career in that sport by reaching over the fence to rob a home run and finishing with three hits in the league’s Senior All-Star Game last Sunday.
And in her spare time, she ran track, proving to be a phenomenal sprinter who sparked what is believed to be Wyoming Area’s first girls WVC league title with the 2015 Division 2 crown. Bednarski’s steady stream of regular-season victories on the track helped the Warriors boost their unbeaten streak to 12 consecutive regular-season meets before the Warriors finished second to Holy Redeemer in a nail-biting, late-season battle that went down to the meet’s final event.
Bednarski and Baloga make it three Greater Pittston athletes to pick up this award from the Times Leader. Wyoming Seminary lacrosse player Kate Romanowski, of West Pittston, won Player of the Year in her sport.