BERWICK – The task was daunting. Win five games in three days and bring home the Little League Junior Softball state championship.
Pittston Area fell one victory short Monday.
Plagued by uncharacteristic defensive lapses, Pittston Area committed four errors in the third inning of the second game at the Berwick Little League. St. Mary’s pounced on the chances, scoring five times in a 5-3 victory that decided the state title.
Pittston Area began the day needing two straight wins over the defending state champion.
By handing St. Mary’s its first loss of the tournament, 6-4, in Monday’s first game, Pittston Area set up a winner-take-all game for the state title.
Pittston Area, however, couldn’t seize the momentum from that win and three others in the previous two days in the division for 13-and-14-year-olds.
“Our girls wanted it today,” Pittston Area manager Mike Callahan said. “They came out in 90-plus degree heat and put everything on the table for Game One; made unbelievable defensive plays, bats came alive, scored run and didn’t leave too many runners on base.
“Came back in Game Two and we had one unfortunate inning and that was that. These girls never gave up.”
The third inning in Game Two started well enough with pitcher Tori Para recording a strikeout. St. Mary’s, though loaded the bases on three consecutive errors and Kara Hansloven knocked in two runs with a single. The fourth error of the inning brought in two more runs. The fifth run scored on a groundout.
“I tell the girls hits are contagious,” Callahan said, “but in some respect, so are errors. We had one bad inning and that was it. These girls played dynamite softball from Day One.”
The five unearned runs erased a 1-0 lead Pittston Area built the second inning on consecutive singles by Cassie Hintze and Kallie Booth and an RBI groundout by Jenna Collins.
Pittston Area couldn’t capitalize in the fifth after Gianna Adams and Isabella Giardina reached on singles. It managed to cut the deficit to 5-3 in the sixth when Adams hit a two-run single to score Ava Callahan and Kallie Booth. Those girls reached on singles.
St. Mary’s pitcher Kendall Young retired four of the next five batters to end the game and send her team to Orange, Conn., for the East Region tournament.
St. Mary’s manager Bob Young said he wasn’t concerned how his team would react to its first loss of the tournament. He liked the way his offense hit the ball in the opener, especially in the sixth inning when his daughter Kendall hit a two-run homer and Julia Jones bounced another ball off the top of the fence.
“I didn’t feel too bad going into the second game,” Young said. “I didn’t think I’d feel that way after the first four innings or so (of the first game). … It kind of sparked there when my daughter hit the home run.”
Pittston Area jumped out quickly in the opener as Giardina was hit by a pitch to start the game and Para followed with a single. Both scored on Booth’s single to right. Booth knocked in Para in the third inning to make it 3-0.
Giardina drove in Maura Mihalka, who singled, in the fourth inning as Pittston Area went ahead by three runs again, 4-1. Sage Weidlich scored Pittston Area’s final run in the fifth by walking, stealing second and advancing two more bases on wild pitches.
Pittston Area went 5-2 in the tournament with both losses coming to St. Mary’s.
After opening with a 7-1 victory over Berwick, Pittston Area fell to St. Mary’s, 3-2, July 12 in the winners’ bracket semifinals.
Pittston Area came back with wins over Caln, 12-2, and Fairchance, 4-0, on July 13. It defeated Morrisville, 13-3, the next day to set up a second shot at St. Mary’s.
SECTION 5 JUNIOR BASEBALL
Nick Cerasaro had a hit, scored twice and stole four passes Tuesday to lead Pittston Area to a 9-4 win over Abington in the opening round of the four-team, double-elimination tournament at Schautz Stadium in Dunmore.
Winning pitcher Jack Long had a double and scored twice.
Vinny Bonomo and Ethan Clarke each had a hit, stolen base, run and RBI.
Wednesday’s action was rained out.
Following a Thursday loss to Green Ridge, Pittston Area was scheduled for a rematch with Abington Friday to try to get another shot at Green Ridge.
Green Ridge started out 2-0 and would have to be beaten twice in a row.
SECTION 5 8-10-YEAR-OLD BASEBALL
Abington defeated Greater Pittston Area, 15-9, Tuesday night in the opening round of the tournament.
Pittston Area Jr. Little League pitcher Victoria Para is shown during one of her deliveries as Pittston Area stopped St. Mary’s 6-4 in PA State softball action at Ber-Vaughn Park, Berwick, on Monday.
Kallie Booth, of Pittston Area, puts the tag on St. Mary’s Shannon Kaiser for as second-base umpire Dale Thomas makes the call.
Pittston Area’s first baseman Taylor Baiera gets to first a half step sooner than St. Mary’s Emma Sorg to complete the out.
St. Mary’s Shannon Kaiser is out at home as Pittston Area catcher Ava Callahan blocks the plate and makes the tag.
Pittston Area pitcher Victoria Para helps her cause by getting a single in later innings.
The Pittston Area Jr. All-Star team celebrates at the conclusion of its semi-final game against St. Mary’s, taking the victory 6-4.