PIAA SOFTBALL: Book, Treon Propel Hazleton Area Past Garnet Valley In Class 6A Opener
EDWARDSVILLE — Erika Book spent the past five days agonizing over her last time in the pitching circle.
Even though Hazleton Area’s senior ace was the winning pitcher in the Cougars’ 10-6 victory over Williamsport in the District 2/4 Class 6A Subregional softball title game, she certainly didn’t like giving up six runs on 10 hits and three walks.
Book made amends Monday, retiring Garnet Valley in order in five of seven innings and taking a one-hit shutout into the seventh, before settling for a 4-2 win over the Jaguars in the opening round of the PIAA tournament at Wilkes University’s Ralston Athletic Complex.
“I came out with a vengeance to say the least,” said Book, who finished with a four-hitter for her fourth state playoff win in five decisions over the past two seasons.
“I definitely wanted to redeem myself,” she added. “I just hit my spots and pitch how I pitch. Ever since I was little, I was never the speedster, so you do what you do best.’’
“Her off-speed stuff got us,” Garnet Valley coach George White said. “We hit fast pitching very well. It’s the off-speed that gets us a little bit ... and she got us. We were way ahead of some of her pitches.’’
While Book befuddled the Jaguars (16-10) with her array of junk and her teammates’ flawless defensive play behind her, Tiana Treon sparked the Cougars’ offense by going 3 for 3 with a double, two singles and three RBIs.
“I usually do well against off-speed pitching,” Treon said. “I practice against that a lot.’’
Like Book, Garnet Valley sophomore Becca Halford effectively mixed speeds for the most part. Treon was the only Hazleton Area player to solve Halford completely, as she accounted for three of her team’s base hits. Singles by Rebecca Rossi and pinch hitter Kaitlynn Peters made up the other two.
“We knew she threw a really nice changeup and that she wasn’t going to give them (fastballs) to our better hitters,” Cougars head coach Heather Natt said of Halford. “We knew everybody in the bottom of our order would have to execute timely hitting, but Tiana was able to squeeze out three hits against her.’’
Book set the Jaguars down in order in each of the first three innings with not one batted ball leaving the infield. That was quite a difference from last Wednesday when Williamsport scored three times over the first three innings and squandered several other early chances against her.
“I hate letting these girls down. ... They pick me up so many times,” Book said. “Coming out and not playing my best was not an option for me today, so I worked hard and I came back strong.’’
While Book was keeping the fourth-place finishers from District 1 in check, the Cougars’ only baserunner over the first three innings came courtesy of Treon’s two-out single in the first.
It wasn’t until after Drexel University recruit Lindsey Hunt singled for the Jaguars’ first baserunner in the top of the fourth, but was left stranded, that Hazleton Area finally stirred against Halford in the bottom half.
Rossi dropped a leadoff single into left field and almost immediately swiped second for her 26th stolen base in 26 attempts. Treon singled to left on the next pitch, with Rossi easily scoring the game’s first run and Treon moving up a base on the throw back to the infield.
Marissa Trivelpiece’s ground ball then was thrown away, chasing Treon home to make it 2-0. But after a walk to Kyra Antolick, Halford retired the next three batters to keep her team close.
However, Book made sure the Jaguars wouldn’t build off that momentum with another 1-2-3 inning in the fifth.
With the win, the Cougars advanced to the quarterfinals for the third straight year. They’ll meet the winner of today’s Neshaminy-Central Bucks South game on Thursday at a time and site to be announced.