Honesdale's varsity softball team tallied four times in the bottom of the seventh to upset top-ranked North Pocono
Dave Patrisso felt it coming.
Honesdale's veteran softball coach could sense that his team was on the verge of breaking out.
“We had one bump in the road recently against Abington,” he said. “But, other than that, I really liked what I'd been seeing from our girls lately. I knew we were due for a big win
And, he was right.
Never Say Die
The Lady Hornets trailed North Pocono by three runs with three outs to go on Tuesday … not exactly an enviable spot against Division II's top team.
However, this scrappy blue-collar squad kept on grinding. The local lasses staged a wild rally in the bottom of the seventh, scoring four times to clinch an electrifying 5-4 victory.
With the win, Honesdale improved its league record to 5-5. The Lady Hornets are now just a game back of Wallenpaupack Area in the Division II standings.
“We've been talking about a signature win for a couple weeks now,” Coach Patrisso said. “We've had a couple of nice ones, but to beat North Pocono … a team that came in here tied for first place in the division … well, this is our signature win so far this season.”
Weather permitting, the local lasses will be back in action Thursday on the road at Valley View.
They return home for a rare Saturday battle with Paupack. First pitch is set for 11 a.m. at the Daniel J. O'Neill Sports Complex.
A Senior Day ceremony will be held half an hour prior to the start of the game.
Senior Jami Lesek drew the starting nod for Honesdale, while North Pocono countered with junior Niole Zasada.
Lesek pitched well from start to finish, running into trouble only twice en route to a complete game victory.
Jami worked seven innings, allowed two earned runs on five hits while striking out seven and issuing three walks.
She kept Trojan batters guessing all evening by mixing in a devastating change-up with a lively fastball.
“These last few games, this is the best I've ever seen Jami pitch,” Coach Patrisso said. “That change-up has really made a huge difference. It makes her fastball look so much faster. She's throwing it consistently for strikes and in just about any count.”
Zasada was every bit as impressive for North Pocono through the first six frames. Nicole struck out eight and walked just one before running out of gas.
Honesdale defenders flashes some serious Gold Glove leather Tuesday.
In fact, a play that may have made the ultimate difference between winning and losing occurred in the top of the third.
Ashdon Clark is North Pocono's best hitter and one of the most feared power threats in the entire league.
She came to the plate with two outs and runners on first and second. Lesek fired a low heater and Clark pounced, crushing the ball on a line to the base of the wall in leftfield.
Emily Blaine and Dayle Clark each sprinted home, but the Lady Hornets didn't give up on the play.
Katie Grund chased the ball down and unleashed a perfect relay throw to Sadie Wood. Honesdale's shortstop turned and fired a strike to third baseman Alexa Jones, who tagged out Clark trying for a triple.
“That's one of the nicest plays you're ever going to see at this level,” Coach Patrisso said. “We practice that a lot and it shows. The girls executed it perfectly.”
The Red & Black erased what may have eventually been another tally, while simultaneously killing off the Trojans' rally … a fact that would loom large later in a game ultimately decided by a single run.
Meanwhile, Brooke Gardas was also turning in a stellar defensive effort.
A junior and returning divisional all-star, Gardas has carved out a name for herself as one of the most dependable fielders in the region.
On Tuesday, Honesdale's silky smooth second sacker handled all of her chances flawlessly, including two key plays late in the game.
In fact, Gardas recorded two assists and a putout in the top of the sixth
“I honestly don't think there's a better second baseman in the league than Brooke Gardas,” Coach Patrisso said. “Her range has really improved and she has a very accurate arm.
“Brooke is a terrific all-round player. She excels in the field and at the plate.”
North Pocono entered the bottom of the seventh seemingly in complete control of the game.
The Trojans led 4-1 and Zasada showed no signs of impending doom. However, the Lady Hornets finally came to life with just three outs left to go.
Gardas got things going with a lead-off single and was promptly joined on base by Wood, who also singled. Kaitlin Price then came through with a clutch basehit of her own, slapping a single to right that scored Gardas and narrowed the score to 4-2.
Moments later, Megan Rembish made it 4-3 with a textbook squeeze bunt.
It was at this point that North Pocono head coach Michael LaFave made a pitching change, bringing in his ace Courtney Zaic.
The Trojan junior didn't fare any better, though.
Gina Dell'Aquila laid down another perfect squeeze, plating Price, tying the score and sending Maple City softball fans into a frenzy.
This apparently rattled Zaic, who proceeded to walk the next two batters, which forced in the winning run and gave Honesdale a wild 5-4 win.
Price paced the Red & Black attack at the plate. The junior clean-up batter went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.
“Kaitlin is one of the best hitters around,” said Coach Patrisso. “She just continues to rake game-in and game out. If you make a mistake to Kaitlin, she'll make you pay for it.”
Honesdale's mentor also gave high marks to Rachel Daub.
A freshman who's been a revelation at catcher, Daub also wreaks havoc at the top of the batting order.
“Rachel has done a heck of a job,” Coach Patrisso said. “She plays with a lot of confidence. Rachel works so well with Jami and she brings a whole new dimension to our team with her speed and ability to get on base consistently.”
Score by Innings...
NP (6-4) 0 0 2 0 2 0 0 - 4
HON (5-5) 0 0 0 0 1 0 4 - 5