Mt. Pleasant softball faces tough pitchers in PIAA title game
Tunkhannock has Hope and Faith at the top of its lineup.
But it remains to be seen if that will be enough against Mt. Pleasant in Thursday's PIAA Class 4A title game.
Both schools will be in the PIAA softball finals for the first time in a 1:30 p.m. encounter at Penn State's Nittany Lion Park.
Hope and Faith Jones will lead the Tigers (19-5) against the Vikings (16-3), a team with just one senior starter.
The twins combined for five runs Monday as Tunkhannock broke open a close game with a six-run fourth inning en route to a 9-4 win over Bangor in a semifinal at Wilkes College. Hope pitched the first five innings and recorded the victory.
While the Tigers were getting action at the top of their order, Mt. Pleasant had two rallies started from the bottom of the order.
Number eight hitter and sophomore Mya Klejka singled and score twice while freshman Sydney Kanuch singled, reached on a fielder's choice error and scored twice in the 7-2 Vikings victory at Cal (Pa.).
“That bottom of the order has absolutely come through for us this year,” fourth-year Vikings coach Lauren Shaheen said. “We've scored runs when we've needed to, and they've done a very good job with that.”
Runs could be at a premium Thursday. Tunkhannock has a team ERA of 1.60, and Jones and Kendra Schultz have pitched effectively.
Meadow Uncapher blanked Harbor Creek, 3-0, in the PIAA opener, and Carolyn Alincic pitched the semifinal Monday. Alincic had just three strikeouts and relied on her fielders.
“She did a fantastic job putting the ball where it needed to be, and their big hitters hit ground balls,” Shaheen said of Alincic's performance against Yough. “I'll take a groundball any day — I have that much confidence in our infield. They're ready, they're loose, they're expecting the ball.”
Alincic retired nine straight betters during one stretch.
Junior Chloe Poulich homered to conclude the scoring in the sixth.
“We just wanted to make good contact, and it worked in our favor,” Poulich said. “I was pulling my head away and not making good contact. I wanted to make sure in the last at-bat I got a piece of one.”
First baseman Nikki Klejka is the Vikings' only senior starter.
Shaheen doesn't think she'll have to talk to her squad about the magnitude of the upcoming game.
“I don't think I need to,” Shaheen said. “They know how big it is, how important it is, and they won't let that get to their heads and change how they play. When they're loose, they're so much better.”
Tunkhannock is located west of Scranton in Wyoming County. Both school districts have a town with a surrounding rural area, especially Tunkhannock, which takes in 397 square miles.
Mt. Pleasant consists of 105 square miles.
Both communities formerly were known for their industries — Mt. Pleasant with glass and Tunkhannock with lumbering.
George Guido is a freelance writer.