AT HER BEST: Tuzinski Calls 18-strikeout Shutout Her All-time Best Game
HANOVER TWP. — This was one for the ages.
Hanover Area junior Sarah Tuzinski has pitched hundreds of games over her softball career, becoming a varsity veteran for coach Kathy Healey’s Hawkeyes.
“I still love pitching today, but I’ve always tried to pitch as much as possible,” Tuzinski said. “Even when I was little, I was always throwing the ball. Even at the age of like 6, I was always throwing.”
All that hard work paid off Thursday, when, she and Healey agreed, Tuzinski pitched her all-time best game.
Tuzinski recorded a Wyoming Valley Conference season-high 18 strikeouts, keeping Northwest scoreless long enough for freshman Riley Corbett to provide the winning hit in the bottom of the eighth inning in Hanover Area’s 1-0 win over the Rangers.
Having entered Thursday with a .328 team batting average, Northwest (7-3, 4-2 WVC) went 2 for 27 against Tuzinski.
“I thought both teams’ offenses would be a little bit better than that, but both pitchers were hitting their spots and doing a great job,” said Northwest head coach Kevin Harvey. “Sarah dominated us today. There’s not much you can say.”
Tuzinski’s rise ball was particularly effective, helping her strike out the first seven batters she faced, setting the tone for the rest of the afternoon.
With assistant coach Gary Williams calling the pitches and Corbett catching them behind the plate, Tuzinski allowed only three base-runners, none of whom made it past second base.
Not to be outdone, Northwest’s Nicole Cragle was equally spectacular with the help of some key catches by right fielder Adalyn Kleintob.
Cragle ran into trouble in the bottom of the seventh, though, when the game was tied at 0 with two outs and nobody on base.
She walked Ally Sheridan, which was followed by back-to-back singles by Sara Whitesell and Alessia Mangan.
Suddenly, the bases were loaded and Hanover Area had a chance to win with Tuzinski, the No. 3 hitter, at the plate.
In one of the game’s longest at-bats, Tuzinski worked a 2-2 count before hitting a ground ball to Cragle, who threw to first for the out.
“To me, (Tuzinski) is probably their best all-around hitter and to have her up and get out there, yeah, I felt good,” Harvey said when asked about going into extras.
But after Northwest went down 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth, Hanover Area’s Lindsey Mendygral laced a one-out double to right field.
Kasidy Slusser singled to left, moving Mendygral to third.
After Cragle induced a ground ball for the second out, Corbett stepped to the plate with a chance to win the game.
“There’s a lot of pressure that I’m a freshman, but everyone is so supportive when I am up there,” Corbett said. “It’s very stressful — but very nice at the same time.”
Corbett swung at a pitch from the left-handed Cragle and drove it opposite field to right, where it found enough space to drop in the shallow outfield for a game-winning hit.
Wearing rally caps, the Hawkeyes then rushed the field and embraced Corbett along the first-base line.
“That’s awesome for Riley,” Healey said. “Actually, I think this was her best game behind the plate, too. I think she dropped one ball behind the plate; as a freshman, catching Sarah is pretty hard to begin with. And then for Riley to come in at that moment and have that hit is just incredible for her. She’s a great, great kid.”
Mangan and Mendygral had two hits each for Hanover Area, which improved to 8-1 (5-0 WVC) and continued a seven-game win streak.
Brenna Babcock and Emily Culver had the only hits for Northwest.
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