Honesdale suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to West Perry

Honesdale’s scintillating softball season has finally come to a heartbreaking conclusion.

The Lady Hornets traveled to Central Columbia High School on the outskirts of Bloomsburg Thursday afternoon to battle West Perry with a berth in the PIAA Class 4A championship game hanging in the balance.

Unfortunately for a big contingent of hometown fans, Coach Dave Patrisso’s squad came out on the short end of a 3-1 decision.

“I love these girls like they’re my own kids,” he said in a hoarse whisper just moments after the final out. “This has been an incredible season. It’s something I’ll never forget for the rest of my life ... and I know they won’t either.”

West Perry advances to the PIAA final, scheduled for Thursday at Penn State.

Honesdale closes out its campaign with 16 wins ... only one short of a trip to the 4A title tilt.

First Blood

The Lady Hornets drew first blood in Tuesday's elimination game.

After an uneventful first inning, Kaitlin Price coaxed a one-out walk. She was joined on base by Natalee West, who also walked.

West was erased on a fielder's choice groundout by Sadie Wood. Julianna Decker was then dispatched to run for Honesdale's catcher, setting the stage for Gina Dell'Aquila.

The slugging shortstop took a strike and then pounced on a belt-high heater. The ball rocketed up the alley in right center, bringing the crowd to its feet. Unfortunately for local fans, it banged off the very top of the wall … just six inches from what would have been a 3-run homer.

Price scampered home and Coach Patrisso waved in Decker as well. West Perry executed a perfect relay, though, and Julianna was gunned down at the plate. Dell'Aquila settled for an RBI double and a 1-0 Honesdale lead.

“It's hard not to think about how about different things might have been if that ball gets over the fence,” Coach Patrisso said. “Being up three instead of just one would've been huge.”

The Lady Hornets threatened again in the top of the third when Brooke Gardas worked a lead-off walk. Rachel Daub sacrificed Gardas to second, but she died there when Gregory and Alexa Jones were retired.

West Perry broke though in the bottom half of the frame when Tiara Johnson blasted a solo homer. The senior centerfielder launched a towering flyball over the wall in right, knotting the score at 1-1.

In the top of the fifth, Honesdale hit the ball hard three straight times, but West Perry flashed some serious leather to keep things tied.

Wood smoked a ball to center, which Johnson ran down for the first out.

Dell'Aquila then ripped a line drive that appeared destined for a basehit. However, second sacker Katelyn Ziegler leapt high in the air to flag it down.

Finally, Gardas flared a ball into short right that also looked like a hit, but Kayla Weaver had other ideas. The fleet-footed sophomore sprinted toward the infield and laid out for a diving, highlight reel catch.

“It's tough, but you have to expect it,” Coach Patrisso said of his girls' hard-luck fifth inning. “When you get to this level of competition and play teams like West Perry, you know they're going to make great plays.”

The Mustangs took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the frame.

Gretchen Fredrick got up in the count 3-0 and received a green light from her coach. The sophomore first baseman unloaded on a knee-high fastball and hammered it over the centerfield fence, putting West Perry up 2-1.

The third-seed from District Three tacked on an insurance run in the sixth, thanks to an RBI single off the bat of sophomore third baseman Jordan Santopietro

In the Circle

Gregory strode to the circle one again Tuesday and pitched her heart out.

The freshman fireballer worked six innings, allowed just five hits while walking three and fanning eight.

Marissa didn't have her best stuff on this particular day, but her tenacity and competitive spirit were at an all-time high. Each time the Mustangs threatened, Gregory reached down deep for that one big pitch.

“I'm very proud of her,” Coach Patrisso said. “She was kind of effectively wild today. But, she pitched well enough to keep us in the game. That's why we call her 'Bulldog' though. She's just so mentally tough. She never gives in even when she's behind in the count. She just keeps fighting.”

Gregory was opposed by West Perry ace Cori Ritter.

The junior right-hander turned in a complete game one-hitter, keeping Lady Hornet hitters off-balance all game. Ritter walked four, fanned five and was the beneficiary of multiple Gold Glove plays.

Honesdale threatened one last time in the top of the seventh.

Ritter walked West with two down, bringing Wood to the plate. Sadie ripped a 1-1 fastball deep to right center, once again bringing the fans to their feet. Alas, Johnson ran it down at the base of the fence for the final out.

“There aren't going to be any tears on the way home,” said Coach Patrisso. “We're going to celebrate and have fun. I love these girls and this team from the bottom of my heart.

“I think it's probably going to take a little while before it sinks in and they realize the amazing things they've accomplished this year.”