Hampton softball team earns playoff bid
With a win spelling the difference between the making the playoffs and missing it, the Hampton softball squad took the field against section rival Highlands.
In what amounted to an elimination game for the Lady Talbots, the team played its strong suit: its bats.
Hampton sprinkled nine runs across five innings to clinch a trip to the playoffs in a 9-6 win.
“I have said it 1,000 times: We can beat anyone but can be beat by anyone, too,” Hampton coach Ron Fedell said. “The one thing we have done consistently all year is hit. Sometimes our fielding has let us down, but we are starting four freshmen, so it is a work in progress.”
After Hampton went three-up and three-down in the first inning, senior centerfielder Paige Paskorz led off the top of the second with a double.
Sophomore Megan Thorton followed that with a double for a 1-0 lead. Rachel Pletz doubled, setting up Joclyn White and Kateryna Bittner, who each drove in runs.
Breanna Lent, Pletz and Sam Clutter knocked in runs over the remainder of the game.
“I was happy with the hitting,” Paskorz said. “I was happy to be able to contribute to the scoring.”
Thorton said her hitting was a bit down coming into the game, but went 3 for 4 with three doubles and two RBI.
“I practiced, got it up and going (against Highlands),” Thorton said. “We have been trying in the field, and I think we are getting a little better.
“It's just amazing to get into the playoffs; that's what you dream of.”
Paskorz said it is nice to get back after missing the postseason last year.
“The seniors have been together for a long time, so to get back to the playoffs is satisfying,” Paskorz said.
As happy as Fedell was with the hitting outburst, he has to give credit to senior pitcher Claire Welka.
“Claire pitched well and is one of the main reasons we are back in the playoffs,” Fedell said. “She came on and did a heck of a job. My hat is off to her.”
Welka was one of four pitchers competing for the starting job early on in the season. She has helped the team tally a 5-5 record in the section, which puts them in a tie for second.
Fedell said the goal now is to tune up the fielding with a handful on non-section games between now and when the playoffs begin.
Jerry Clark is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-779-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org.