Early runs hurt Panthers as 17-game winning streak comes to an end with 6-2 loss against Williams Valley.

By: Brett R. Crossley | Towanda Daily Review | June 9, 2017 | Photo courtesy Brett R. Crossley

 

Early runs hurt Panthers as 17-game winning streak comes to an end with 6-2 loss against Williams ValleyTURBOTVILLE — Northeast Bradford opened the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class A Softball Championships with four hits and a run, but left the top of the first feeling like it could have got more than just the single run.

The Panthers went on to scatter three hits over the next five innings before stringing three singles together in a late effort to undo District 11 Champion Williams Valley's lead.

The late push fell short as the Vikings closed the game out for a 6-2 win over the Panthers. Williams Valley, the defending Class A Champion, will face (5-1) Myersdale which defeated Glendale, 15-2.

As for Northeast Bradford, the 17-game winning streak came to an end as the Panthers just could not summon the magic to force a rally. They stranded five runners over the final two innings, which included three after loading the bases in the top of the sixth.

"We didn't have a lot of chances, but we had a couple," Northeast Bradford coach Gary Hennip said. "The kids played hard. They worked hard. In the sixth inning we had some good swings. We just didn't get any runs."

In the first inning, the Panthers scored after Megan Brown reached on a single into left field. McKenna Wheaton, who finished going 3-for-4, connected with a single to score Brown and give the Panthers their initial run.

Wheaton finished the State Tournament going five-for-seven with five singles, three RBI, and a run scored. She helped score Brown in the first and then singled in the seventh to score Brown a second time.

"It was nice to score that one run in the first," Hennip said. "We had a chance to score more runs. We had the bases loaded and we just didn't score any more runs. That would have made a big difference."

The Vikings, who finished with eight hits, opened the first, second, and third innings with hits.

Kali Whitcomb opened the bottom of the first with a single and immediately stole second. The Vikings attempted steals throughout the game, which put pressure on the Panthers' defense.

"We test their catcher's arm and if she can't throw us out we're going to keep running," Williams Valley coach Lee Reiser said. "We did the same things with bunting. We saw they couldn't field bunts and kept throwing the ball around. That's what we do. If we see something we're going to keep doing it until you stop it."

In what Reiser said was his team's best bunting performance of the season, they tested Northeast Bradford with positive results throughout the game. The Vikings bunted for three singles in the game, including Whitcomb's to open the game. Whitcomb scored the first run for the Vikings. She then put down a bunt in the second inning to help score a run.

Williams Valley opened the second and third with doubles as they added a run in each of the innings.

"Each of those first three innings they get the lead-off hitter on," Hennip said. "They are quick and athletic and they stole a couple bases on us. It puts a lot of pressure on you defensively."

Slater, who has been outstanding throughout the season for Northeast Bradford, overcame a walk in the fourth and then forced three straight flyouts in the seventh for her only two scoreless innings. She finished with a strikeout, but gave up three walks and six runs.

Williams Valley scored off a lead-off walk in the fifth. A fielding error helped score the Vikings' final run of the game.

"We knew they were a very good team and we had to put the pressure on them," Reiser said. "We just had to stick to our game. You have to put the pressure on better teams. They scored early, but we came right back with two runs. We just had to stop them before they got rolling."