ALLENTOWN — Abington Heights scored four runs in the second inning to build a comfortable lead and the Lady Comets held off a late rally to defeat Bishop Shanahan, 7-3, in a Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class 3A quarterfinal softball game Thursday, June 9 at Patriots Park.
Naudia Solan led off the inning with a triple to deep left field and Marissa Lewis drove her in with a single past third base for the first run.
“I knew, in my head, that I could get the hit and just needed to get the ball in play with somebody on base,” Lewis said. “This feels so great, we’ve been dreaming about it. Our first goal was districts and (advancing) in the state playoffs is the icing on the cake.”
Nina Kozar followed with another single to bring Lewis home.
“I just cleared my head and was thinking contact, contact, contact the whole at-bat,” Kozar said. “I knew I needed to help out the team. I executed and everyone followed.”
After Cassie Toth walked, Kozar came around to score on a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt from Cassidy Bartkowski. Then, Alison Kane drove in Toth on a ground out for the final run of the inning.
Bishop Shanahan (11-15) had a quality scoring chance in the bottom of the first after Miranda Bedics led off with a bloop single and Katy Newton followed with an infield single, but Abington Heights pitcher Paige Harris induced two consecutive pop outs, including a double play started by Solan in left field to end the inning.
“I knew that I had the team behind me,” Harris said. “They were playing really great today aside from a little bit of nerves in the beginning. It was probably my fault as well, to be honest, because I was nervous.”
Abington Heights (17-1) added a run in the top of the third inning when Toth walked with the bases loaded and a sacrifice fly from Solan gave the Lady Comets a 6-0 in the top of the fourth inning.
Bishop Shanahan had two runners on base in the bottom of the fourth, but Harris induced a pop out to end the threat.
“Paige is a tough kid,” Abington Heights head coach John Kelly said. “She’s been struggling a little bit with her arm, it’s been really sore and she’s been battling through it. I can’t say enough about her, we feel really confident that we’re going to be successful when she’s on the mound.”
Kozar led off the top of the fifth with a bloop single over first base and Toth followed with a sacrifice bunt. After a pop out from Bartkowski and a walk from Kane, Harris delivered an RBI single to give Abington Heights a 7-0 lead.
Bishop Shanahan ended Harris’ shutout bid with a RBI double from Anne Weyand in the bottom of the sixth, but the Lady Eagles were denied their second run of the game when Marley Weston was thrown out at home after colliding with her third base coach.
Shanahan added two runs in the bottom of the seventh on an error and two-out RBI double from Devon Miller, but Harris induced a pop out from Weston to end the game.
Abington Heights, the District 2 champion, will play Lampeter Strasburg (24-3), the District 3 third-place team, at 7 p.m. Monday, June 13 at Patriots Park in Allentown in the state semifinals.
“I’m so proud of the team,” Harris said. “As a senior, it’s amazing going this far and hopefully we can pull out the whole entire thing.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.