THROOP- Old Forge junior Taylor Nemetz had been struggling at the plate entering the District 2 Class A softball title game May 29.
That quickly changed when she lined a triple over the head of Lackawanna Trail right fielder Taryn Matte driving in Lauren Carey who reached with a leadoff walk for the first run of the game.
“I’ve been in the biggest hitting slump, I think of my entire life, and I was really determined to get out of it, especially for the postseason because this is when the games mean the most,” Nemetz said.
The next batter, catcher Tori Tansley, drove in Nemetz to give the Lady Devils a 2-0 lead after the top of the first.
That would be all the runs that senior pitcher Kim Regan would need as she allowed just two hits and one unearned run while striking out 13 in Old Forge’s 6-1 district title win over Lackawanna Trail at Mid Valley High School.
“The is the best performance she’s had since she has been with us,” Old Forge head coach Pat Revello said. “She really pitched well, and I hope it carries on into states.”
The Lady Devils lost in the semifinals last season, but had won the previous four district titles, and were eager to regain their crown.
“We were real anxious to get back out here and get a win for our school,” Regan said.
After Lady Lions’ pitcher Brianna Smarkusky retired the Old Forge batters in order in the top of the second, she walked to lead off the bottom of the inning. Courtesy runner Janine Strauch advanced to second on a wild pitch and later scored on a throwing error when Matte dribbled a single up the first base line.
Old Forge added to its lead in the top of the third when shortstop Rhyan Barnic delivered an RBI single. A bunt by Carey led to a run in the fourth inning when a throwing error allowed Kayla Floravito to score when no one was covering third base.
Smarkusky, who struck out four, held the Lady Devils to one run over the four innings.
“Bri pitched well all day long,” Lackawanna Trail head coach John Brander said. “We had a couple miscues defensively that didn’t help her cause, but overall I was happy with the way she pitched.”
Trailing by four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Trail’s Cameron Crock tried to start a one-out rally with a double. After Regan fell behind on the next batter, Tansley and the entire infield converged around the mound for a pep talk.
Regan responded by striking out the final five batters of the game to send the Lady Devils to the first-round of the PIAA playoffs.
“She (Tansley) just told me to calm down,”Regan said. “Everything worked out fine.”
Brander was proud of his team’s performance this season, advancing to the school’s district title game since 1993.
“We told them all year if they work hard all season that we would end up in this position,” he said. “Obviously, we wanted to come out on top but they did work hard all year and deserved to be here.
“It was just not a good day not to bring our best game.”