SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. — Abington Heights’ offense was in a bit of a slump heading into the district playoffs, but the Lady Comets broke out of it in a big way Wednesday afternoon.
After being shut out by Valley View in the regular season finale, Abington Heights, the top-seed, scored four runs in the first inning en route to a 10-1 win over eighth-seeded Berwick in the quarterfinals of the District 2 Class 3A softball playoffs.
Berwick took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but a base running blunder prevented the potential for more runs. The Lady Bulldogs got three consecutive singles from pitcher Kylie Levan, third baseman Shea Petty and catcher Brooke Stout, and second baseman Reganne Whitmire lined a RBI single up the middle with two outs, but Petty was tagged out at third after overrunning the base to end the inning.
Third baseman Kaylee DeMatteo, left fielder Naudia Solan and first baseman Marissa Lewis each drove in a run for the Lady Comets and Cassidy Bartkowski scored on a throwing error in the bottom of the first.
“We’ve been struggling hitting in the last couple games, so it was a big confidence boost for the girls to get those runs in the first inning,” Abington Heights head coach John Kelly said. “One through nine, when we’re on, we have a pretty tough lineup.”
Center fielder Alison Kane delivered a RBI triple and pitcher Paige Harris drove in a run with a single to stretch Abington Heights’ lead to 6-1 after two innings.
DeMatteo’s RBI single in the bottom of the fourth inning, after a single from Harris, gave Abington Heights a 7-1 advantage.
“One batter got on base and there was a domino effect,” DeMatteo said. “We all pulled it together. I think it had a lot to do with our confidence.”
Berwick (7-10) threatened to cut into the deficit in the top of the fifth, but the Lady Bulldogs were unable to score.
Levan walked to lead off the inning and after Petty grounded into a fielder’s choice, Stout singled. Harris regrouped, after a brief mound visit, to strike out pinch hitter Gabi Popko and induce a pop out from Whitmire to end the threat.
“It’s amazing having a pitcher like Paige and our defense is absolutely solid to back her up,” DeMatteo said.
Kane drove in her second run of the game with a single in the bottom of the fifth to put Abington Heights ahead 8-1 and Solan provided the final blow with a two-run home run over the wall in center field.
“At the end of the year, she was our designated player and was hitting very well,” Kelly said of Solan. “We knew we had to find a spot for her in the field. We moved her from the infield to the outfield and it’s paid big dividends.”
Abington Heights (13-1) will host fourth-seeded Nanticoke (11-4) at 4:30 p.m. on Friday for a trip to the Class 3A title game on Wednesday, June 1.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.