Athens — Athens hosted Bloomsburg in the opening round of the PIAA District IV Class AAA softball tournament. A slow start put the Wildcats in a hole they were never able to escape.

Early in the game, Bloomsburg’s Taylor Adamchick stymied Wildcat batters. Only four Wildcats reached the bases in the first four innings. Coach Adams noted that Adamchick was “not as fast as what we are normally used to seeing. She did a great job, kept [the ball] low in the zone.”

Meanwhile, Bloomsburg’s hitters capitalized on Athens fielding miscues. In the top of the second, Lexus Kriesher led off with a single. A series of fielding slips by Athens and timely hitting by Bloomsburg allowed Bloomsburg to score two runs. With a runner on and only one out, Wildcat pitcher Megan Bennett shut down the scoring threat with two strikeouts to end the inning.

Bloomsburg added another run in the top of the third courtesy of a double by Klinger who was driven home by Rita Nuss. Bloomsburg once again had a runner on and only one out. Bennett threw two more strikeouts to end the threat and keep the gap at three runs, 3-0.

In the top of the fourth, the Wildcat defense began to stiffen. A combination of solid fielding and Bennett’s pitching allowed only two Panther baserunners for the duration of the game. Bloomsburg did not score again.

Athens’ hitters began to get a feel for Adamchick’s pitching. In the bottom of the fifth, Hayleigh Macik hit a two-out single. Emma Adams followed by crushing the ball over the right field fence for a home run. The two seniors crossed home plate and drew the Wildcats to within a run, 3-2.

In the bottom of the sixth, Harley Sullivan led off with a line drive single past the third baseman. Bloomsburg coaches had seen enough offense from the Wildcats and made a pitching change. Ellen Hull took over in the circle for Bloomsburg. Emma Repsher singled Hull’s second pitch to put two Wildcats on base with no outs. However, Hull struck out the next three Wildcats.

In the bottom of the seventh, Hull got a ground out and a strike out before intentionally walking Adams. She then got Bennett to hit into a fielder’s choice and end the game.

After the game, Coach Adams commended the mentality of his players. “They continue to battle to the end. They have that mentality where they’re not going to quit until the end.” He specifically mentioned the role of the team’s seniors. “These seniors have been around a long time. They’re a special group, good leaders.”

Adamchick got the win; she scattered five hits over five innings and struck out two.

Bennett pitched a complete game for Athens, gave up six hits and struck out eight. At the plate, Emma Adams led the Wildcats with a homerun and two walks. Sullivan, Repsher, Barry, Reid and Hayleigh Macik also got hits.

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