NHS softball team wins District 11 championship
The Northampton softball team claimed its first district title since 2013 by defeating Cement Belt rival Whitehall 5-4 with a dramatic walk-off win the bottom of the seventh inning.
Head coach Kristy Henritzy described the feeling.
“I’ve experienced this (winning districts as a player) and it’s so much more rewarding seeing them get to experience this as their coach,” she said.
Whitehall opened the scoring in the fourth inning. Abby Vivian drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Abbey Reese delivered a 2-out single to right to draw first blood.
Despite being held scoreless for the first three innings, the K-Kids had been hitting the ball solidly and it seemed inevitable that they would get their offense going.
They finally broke through in the bottom of the fourth. A pair of 2-out hit batters loaded the bases and Lily Stuhledreher delivered a single up the middle to drive in a pair of runs and put the K-Kids on top.
Northampton added a run in the fifth when Kendyll Strohl reached on an error and moved to second via sacrifice bunt. Kate Stuhldreher singled up the middle to drive in the third K-Kid run of the game.
Another error in the bottom of the sixth led to Northampton’s fourth run. Taylor Kranzley delivered a 2-out single to drive in Alexa Cromey from second.
The 4-1 lead felt safe going to the top of the seventh inning. However, things started to unravel quickly. Reese drew a leadoff walk. A Northampton error added a base runner and Kate Yadush singled to right to drive in Reese cutting the deficit to 4-2. Jess Spanitz was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no one out. Emma Bonshak delivered a base hit to drive in another run and keep the bases loaded. The score was now 4-3.
Meghan Hutter hit into a fielder’s choice to drive in the fourth Zephyrs run and tie the game. Vivian walked to load the bases again, this time with one out. A leaping backhand in foul territory by Northampton first baseman Devyn Demchak recorded the second out. A routine fly to right left the bases loaded and sent the game to the bottom of the seventh tied at four.
Northampton loaded the bases with one out and center fielder Rilee Ehrlacher at bat. Ehrlacher hit a chopper back up the middle that took a double play out of consideration and Ryley Stanchock beat the throw home with the winning run.
Senior captain Kate Stuhldreher described her emotions.
“It feels so amazing,” she said. “Especially because we put in so much work together to get to this point. It’s a great team win.”
Catcher Jessie Hunt, who picked off a Whitehall runner to end a threat in the sixth inning said, “I’m so proud of my team. To come back after giving up three runs in the last inning and just picking every one up, it was amazing.”
Third baseman and captain Kendyll Strohl spoke about the team’s resilience in the final inning.
“This is what we’ve been working for all year long,” she said. “We didn’t work all year to lose. We played relaxed even when things weren’t going our way. We’re so excited to continue our season.”