Story first appeared in the April 1, 2016 edition of the Times News and on tnonline.com.
Palmerton softball coach Bob Hock admits that his team’s energy this season could be higher. It may have reached a new height Thursday afternoon.
The Bombers were cheering loud in the dugout as they staged a late-inning comeback and eventually pulled out a 7-4 Colonial League victory over Northwestern in eight innings.
“Games like this hopefully will get their enthusiasm to the surface,” Hock said after addressing his team. “This has been a low-key bunch and we are looking for some leadership and I think some kids showed it today.”
One of those leading by example was Reese Dugan. The senior was slotted fifth in the lineup as a designated player and went 0-for-2 in her first three plate appearances. Once she saw the field in the fifth inning, things changed.
Dugan came in for relief of starting pitcher Kendra Pekurny, who tossed 68 pitches in four innings and surrendered three earned runs. Dugan finished the game in the circle and earned the win as she gave up one run and allowed one hit during her four innings of work.
“I thought I pitched well,” Dugan said. “I think with both Kendra and myself pitching, it’s going to be a really strong season.”
Not only did Dugan contribute in the circle, the senior drove in the go-ahead runs in the top of the eighth inning. Paige Frantz and Miranda Bellis crossed the plate giving Palmerton a 6-4 lead by way of the two-run double from Dugan, who then scored on Alyssa Olewine’s ground-rule double.
Hock feels confident with the entire pitching staff.
“Just seeing Kendra Pekurny out there this season, after she was out injured last year, and seeing her be effective is a boost for this team and for Reese as well. Knowing there are some extra arms, we aren’t going to wear them out.”
Lydia Danner started in the circle for Northwestern (2-2, 2-1) and wanted to go the distance, but was unable to close out the complete game win as she gave up a game-tying, solo home run to Olewine to lead off the seventh inning.
Following that, Northwestern head coach Josh Zimmerman brought in Ellen Smith, but he gave Danner a lot of praise for her six-plus innings of work.
“Don’t take anything away from Lydia here,” he said. “She pitched a heck of a game. She is going to continue to do so for the rest of the year. It is a funny game. A few bounces here or there and it’s a different outcome We just were a couple pitches shy of getting out of there and going home with a ‘W.’”
Northwestern looked poised to earn that win as it scored first in the game, plating three runs in the third inning courtesy of a two-run single from Jess Badman, and an RBI double from Brooke Wehr. Even after Palmerton (2-1, 2-0) tied the game at three in the top of the sixth inning, the Lady Tigers had an answer to take a one-run lead with Natalie Smith scoring on a passed ball.
Despite Northwestern’s hitting early on, it was the Blue Bombers finding their energy and enthusiasm, as well as some timely hitting in the late stages that secured the win, according to Hock.
“Finally, the bats came through and we found the holes. Some kids really got some excitement going in those latter innings and started pounding the ball for us. It was a pleasure to watch.”
CENTURY MARK … Northwestern starting pitcher Danner, a senior, logged 104 pitches in a little more than six innings of work.
MISSED OPPORTUNITIES … Palmerton left 10 runners on base in the game, including the bases loaded in the first inning.
Palmerton 001 002 13 -7 18 2
Northwestern 003 001 00 -4 6 3
Pekurny, Dugan (5) and Acker; Danner, E. Smith (7), Akelatis (8) and Wehr. W – Dugan. L – E. Smith. HR – Palmerton: Olewine (7th, solo).