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Whitehall softball walks it off in win over Emmaus

Walk-off grand slam.

That combination of words represents the ultimate achievement for a hitter in a single at-bat and describes what Whitehall freshman Bella Muth did to cap an improbable Zephyrs’ comeback against Emmaus on Saturday night at Pates Park.

The Hornets were riding a 9-game winning streak and coming off handing Northampton its first loss of the season. Their pitcher, Danika Barthol, is widely considered the best in the EPC.

For five innings Kassy Aquino out-dueled her more heralded counterpart, holding Emmaus hitless. However, the Hornets broke through for the first run of the game in the top of the sixth.

Emma Bonshak led off the bottom of the sixth by roping a 2-2 pitch over the centerfielder’s head for a standup double. She moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored when a deep fly ball to rightfield off the bat of Kate Yadush was dropped. Four batters later, Yadush trotted home after Muth drew a bases-loaded walk.

The Whitehall jubilation at having taken the lead turned to despair as Emmaus scored 3 runs in the top of the seventh inning to go up 4-2.

The top of the Zephyr lineup came through again as Bonshak got things started with a single past the Emmaus shortstop. Jess Spanitz and Yadush then smacked back-to-back doubles to tie the game and send it to extra innings.

For the second time this season, Whitehall and Emmaus had to go 9 innings to reach a decision.

The Hornets scored twice in the top of the ninth, but after having thrown 159 pitches through 8 innings, Barthol was done for the night and the Zephyrs faced a reliever in the bottom of the inning trailing 6-4.

Three walks and an error forced home one run and set Muth up with her moment of destiny. The ball arced out into the night sky and landed just past the outstretched arm of the centerfielder.

Muth described the moment, “It felt amazing. For being on the bench, coming off and just hitting that, it felt amazing. Our intensity on the bench, it just got me all wound up. I had fun, I swung, and it was a great swing.”

An ecstatic Jeff Vivian shared his thoughts, “We’ve talked to them from the beginning that we’re not going to give up. We’re going to fight. We’re going to rage against the night. We’re never going to quit. These girls have embraced that and every inning they just kept coming at them. Credit to Emmaus, they threw everything at us and we just kept fighting. Unreal, unreal.”

Aquino, who went the distance in the circle, explained the significance the breakthrough win, “It means a lot. No one had faith in us after our seniors left and knowing that we’re a really young team.” She added, “Knowing that we work day-in and day-out honestly means the world because we are here, we’re Whitehall and we’re proud to be us and we’re proud to play for our coach.”

This afternoon, the Zephyrs will host Northampton. The team will look to avenge a 12-2 loss at the hands of the K-Kids three weeks ago.

On Friday they have a nonleague game at North Pocono in a rainout makeup. The regular season comes to a close on Monday when Parkland comes to town. The Trojans won the earlier meeting between the teams 3-2.

The EPC quarterfinals are next Thursday.