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Last updated: May 07. 2014 11:50PM - 2328 Views
By Tom Fox For the Times Leader



Hazleton Area pitcher Celine Podlesney leaned on her defense and her guile to get the Cougars past Nanticoke on Monday.
Hazleton Area pitcher Celine Podlesney leaned on her defense and her guile to get the Cougars past Nanticoke on Monday.
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NANTICOKE – Celine Podlesney worked to her strengths.


The Hazleton Area pitcher didn’t overpower hitters. What she did brilliantly was work the corners, understand the umpire’s strike zone and rely on a rock-steady defense.


It turned into the perfect combination.


Podlesney threw a complete-game six-hitter with five strikeouts, and the Cougars’ offense pushed four runs across the dish as Hazleton Area won its 10th straight, 4-1 over the Trojans in a Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 matchup Wednesday.


The Cougars (11-1 Div. 1) clinched at least a tie for the divisional title, while Nanticoke fell for the second straight day and dropped to 7-4 in Division 1. Another Hazleton Area win or Nanticoke loss would give the Cougars the championship.


“We were pretty confident,” said Samantha Varela, who had two of Hazleton Area’s 11 hits. “We work pretty well together and practice makes perfect. We knew that we had to play well today. This was an important game for us.”


Podlesney was steady.


She retired 13 batters at one point, didn’t issue a single walk and never batted an eyelash when things got tough.


She battled out of a two-out, two-on situation in the first.


She never lost her confidence when Nanticoke’s Leandra Ramos and Jenna Lipowski drilled back-to-back doubles to the fence, accounting for the Trojans’ lone run.


And when Lexi Wolk ran in from center field to secure the game’s final out, all the hopes of a Trojan comeback were dashed.


“With Celine on the mound, you know that she’s probably not going to give up four runs,” Hazleton Area assistant coach Ted Treon said. “It was pressure-packed, but a lot of fun. She just hits her spots and pitches. She is such a smart pitcher.”


One play hurt the Trojans.


With Hazleton already leading 2-0, Varela and Hope Kinney ripped consecutive one-out singles in the fifth. But the damage was done on a short fly to center by No. 8 hitter Mikaela Browdy where three Trojans converged to the same spot.


One fielder managed to snag the ball in her glove, but it rolled out and hit the ground as she was trying to steady her momentum. Both Varela and courtesy runner Jess Bernotas scored on the play when a Nanticoke fielder picked up the ball and tried to throw Varela out at third – only to see the ball skip past the baseman and out of play.


“We had a game plan going in, and credit to our girls because I thought that we executed it,” Nanticoke coach Ryan Stetz said. “A few plays here or there got us. Everyone now understands what it is like to play Hazleton. They put the ball in play and don’t strike out often. They provide challenges for your defense. We will learn from this. We will re-establish some of our goals, and get ready for the postseason.”


Nanticoke threatened in the seventh.


Ari Grabowski and Vanessa Tocket both hit short, two-out identical bloopers that landed just out of the reach of Wolk in center. But the Trojans couldn’t find that timely hit, leaving both on base when the game ended.


Nanticoke left a total of five on the basepaths, while the Cougars stranded eight.


“These are the kind of situations that we work on all year long,” Treon said. “We work on our defense so much that it comes natural to them. It’s always an important part of the game.”


Hazleton Area opened the scoring on a RBI grounder by Kinney in the second, while Maria Trivelpiece’s RBI ground out in the fifth increased the lead to 2-0.


MacKenzie Yori, Trivelpiece, Wolk and Varela combined for eight of Hazleton’s 11 hits.


Ramos had two hits for the Trojans.


***

Hazleton Area 4, Nanticoke 1

Hazleton Area `AB`R`H`BI`2B`3B`HR


MacKenzie Yori 3b `4`0`2`0`0`0`0


Abby Sachse lf `4`0`1`0`0`0`0


Maria Trivelpiece 2b `4`0`2`1`0`0`0


Lexi Wolk cf `4`1`2`0`0`0`0


Celine Podlesney p `4`0`0`0`0`0`0


Samantha Varela 1b `4`1`2`0`1`0`0


Hope Kinney c `3`0`1`1`0`0`0


Jess Bernotas cr `0`1`0`0`0`0`0


Mikaela Browdy ss`3`0`0`0`0`0`0


Katie Johnson dp `3`1`1`0`0`0`0


Victoria Bernotas rf `0`0`0`0`0`0`0


Totals `33`4`11`2`1`0`0


Nanticoke `AB`R`H`BI`2B`3B`HR


Rachel Roccograndi ss `3`0`0`0`0`0`0


Leandra Ramos p `3`1`2`0`1`0`0


Jenna Lipowski 2b `3`0`1`1`1`0`0


Kara Voyton 3b `3`0`0`0`0`0`0


Kelsey Rinehamer dp`3`0`0`0`0`0`0


Maddy O’Donohue c `3`0`1`0`0`0`0


Ari Grabowski rf `3`0`1`0`0`0`0


Vanessa Tocket 1b `3`0`1`0`0`0`0


Taylor Briggs cf `2`0`0`0`0`0`0


Cassie Novakowski ph `1`0`0`0`0`0`0


Totals `27`1`6`1`2`0`0


Hazleton Area `010 `012 `0` – 4


Nanticoke `000 `001 `0` – 1


Hazleton Area `IP `H`R`ER`BB`SO


Celine Podlesney (W) `7`6`1`1`0`5


Nanticoke `IP`H`R`ER`BB`SO


Leandra Ramos (L) `7`11`4`2`0`1


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