Softball: Offense Clicks For Hazleton Area
HAZLE TWP. — Erika Book knows that she bats smack dab in the middle of Hazleton Area’s heavy-hitting lineup.
Don’t ask the senior standout who hits ahead of and behind her. Doesn’t matter to Book or her teammates, who continued to bash the softball in their 15-0 rout of Crestwood in the unbeaten Cougars’ home opener on Monday.
Hazleton Area (5-0, 3-0 WVC) pounded out 15 base hits in less than three innings, including a combined seven by its Nos. 6 through No. 9 hitters. Kyra Antolick, Katelynn Peters, Olivia Wolk and Aleah Kost also accounted for all three of the Cougars’ extra-base hits and 10 of their 15 RBIs.
No. 3 hitter Tiana Treon contributed two singles and three RBIs as Book and Hazleton Area pitched their second straight shutout.
“I can’t even tell when the bottom of our lineup is up. ... We can just crush it one through nine,’’ said Book, who was credited with a no-hitter with the PIAA’s mercy rule kicking in after just two and two-thirds innings. “It’s an awesome feeling.”
The Cougars quickly went to work after Book retired the Comets (2-1, 1-1) in the top of the first inning. Taylor Kaschak and Rebecca Rossi led off the bottom half with
singles, moved up a base on a wild pitch and both scored on Treon’s solid single to right.
Before the inning was over, Book and Antolick added a single apiece, Kost plated two more runs with the first of her two base hits and Rossi brought home another with her second hit of the inning that made it 6-0.
“The bats were hot today,’’ winning coach Heather Natt said. “Going back and forth from seeing heat (fast pitchers) to something not as fast. Sometimes it takes us an inning or two to get used to it. ... But I do know we’re going to put the ball in play.’’
The Cougars struck out a total of three times in wins over Tunkhannock and Emmaus on Friday and Saturday, respectively. They also made solid contact against Crestwood pitchers Abby Waite and Jalyn Cook on Monday, fanning not even once.
“When they’re aggressive at the plate, good things happen,’’ Natt said. “Once somebody catches fire, then we all catch fire.’’
After the Comets’ Haley Naperkowski reached on an error for her team’s only baserunner of the afternoon in the top of the second, Hazleton Area tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the inning. A walk to Marissa Trivelpiece, another Antolick base hit, Peters’ RBI single and a sacrifice fly to deep centerfield off Wolk’s bat that scored both Antolick and Peters from third and second, respectively, hiked Hazleton Area’s lead to 9-0.
The Cougars loaded the bases with one out in the home third when Rossi was hit by a pitch, Treon singled for the second time and Trivelpiece walked. Book followed with a long single to score Rossi, though the Comets cut Treon down at the plate on perfect relay from shortstop Sarah Macko to catcher Sydney Sobolewski.
However, the play only delayed the inevitable as Antolick smacked a line drive over the fence in left field for a three-run homer, Peters ripped a base hit to center, Wolk hammered a RBI triple to the deepest part of the field and Kost rapped a double that ended the game with the 15th run in 55 minutes.
“They all know they have to do their jobs ... to get in and get out,’’ Natt said. “We always tell them that if we’re up by quite a few runs to put ’em away and move on to the next game ... and just get the job done.’’