Story first appeared in the April 6, 2016 edition of The Northwestern Press and online at thelehighvalleypress.com.
Three outs were all that was separating Northwestern from an early season Colonial League softball win last week. Alyssa Olewine had another idea.
The Palmerton junior smacked a solo homerun over the wall in left center field, tying the game at four, and sending it to the eighth inning where the Blue Bombers finished their comeback victory in 7-4 fashion against the Lady Tigers on Thursday afternoon in New Tripoli.
“It’s a funny game,” head coach Josh Zimmerman said. “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 (2-2 overall, 2-1 Colonial League) led 3-1 after five innings, with senior pitcher Lydia Danner keeping the Bombers in check at the plate. In the sixth inning, Blue Bomber senior Miranda Bellis hit a two-out ground-rule double, which hopped over the fence, scoring two runs and tying the game at 3-3.
The Lady Tigers had an answer in the bottom half of the inning when sophomore Natalie Smith led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch and then scored on a passed ball two batters later to reclaim the lead, 4-3.
With the lead once again, Danner returned to the circle with hopes of finishing off the complete-game victory when Olewine took a 1-2 pitch over the wall to tie the game and end Danner’s day. Zimmerman brought in Ellen Smith in relief after Danner tossed 104 pitches in her six-plus innings.
“Don’t take anything away from Lydia here,” Zimmerman said. “She pitched a heck of a game. She is going to continue to do so for the rest of the year.”
Palmerton’s bats awoke in the eighth and final frame, highlighted by senior Reese Dugan’s two-out, two-RBI double, giving the Blue Bombers a 6-4 advantage.
Not only did Dugan contribute at the plate, she shut down the Lady Tigers’ offense as well. Dugan pitched four innings, earned the win, and allowed just one hit, as she came in to relieve starting pitcher Kendra Pekurny.
“Giver her credit,” Zimmerman said in reference to Dugan. “She really kept us off balance.
“It seemed like once we relinquished that 4-3 lead, it seemed like we hung our heads a little bit. If you are going to play this game, you are going to face adversity along the way. It’s all about how you bounce back from it and I don’t think we necessarily bounced back from it that great today.”
Despite the setback on Thursday, Zimmerman knows he has a special team this spring.
“We are going to be playing meaningful games in May,” Zimmerman said. “There is no doubt in my mind about that. We have to stay consistent, which we have been so far this year. We aren’t going to get outclassed by anybody that is out there in this league.
“It’s been awhile since this type of team has been together at Northwestern, so you are going to have to get to the point where you get those hits when they count, and want to be that girl that is up to bat when your backs are up against the wall. Hopefully we can gain a little bit of confidence going forward and that will help us along down the road.”
Northwestern hosts rival Northern Lehigh on Friday and visits Bangor on Monday. Both games are slated for 4:15 p.m.