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SL avenges early-seaeon loss

In the third game of the season, Northwestern traveled down Route 309 to challenge Southern Lehigh. The Lady Tigers came away with a 12-1 win and it was perceived as somewhat of an early message that Northwestern (14-3 overall, 11-2 Colonial) was going to be very good this season.

The two teams met again recently and this time it was Southern Lehigh that delivered a message with an 8-3 win.

The Lady Spartans (13-4, 11-3) came out swinging and put up four runs in the first inning with their first six batters reaching base, two of them on Northwestern errors. In the bottom of the inning, it looked like Northwestern would simply put its bats to work as they’ve done throughout the inning, but Southern Lehigh starter Jessica Beltz was able to work out of the early jam.

With two outs, Emily Akelaitis grounded a single to right center and Morgan Farthing followed with a base-hit to right to put runners on first and third. Farthing then stole second and the Lady Spartans went ahead and issued an intentional walk to Ashley Sisco to load the bases. The move worked when Beltz won a battle with Olivia Stofflet to get the third out of the inning.

After the early trouble, both pitchers settled in with Akelaitis skillfully working out of a mess in the third when two singles and an error opened the inning to load the bases. From there, two groundballs to short that Farthing threw home to record outs and a grounder back to the mound made it look like business as usual for Northwestern.

The Tigers went back to chipping away at the 4-1 lead in the fifth when Brynn Balliet led off with a base hit and moved to second on a groundout by Molly Mitman. Anna Akelaitis then hit a long flyball to center for an RBI double to make it 4-2. One out later, another intentional walk, this time to Farthing, allowed Beltz to work out of any further trouble in the inning.

“The girls kept chipping away all the way through and winning some innings and then they got a couple in that last frame and in that case, we had a couple walks and things like that,” said Northwestern head coach Josh Zimmerman. “You can’t do anything with a team like this where you give them outs and extra runners, because they’re going to take advantage and they certainly did. They also hit the ball well today.”

Akelaitis again teased Southern Lehigh when the Spartans loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, but then casually picked up a grounder back to the mound and threw home for the force before getting the final out of the inning.

The Tigers weren’t as fortunate in the seventh when Southern Lehigh followed a one-out walk with a single and a double to make it 6-2. One out and one baserunner later, Cassie Yesalonia singled to drive in two more runs and the Lady Spartans were up 8-2.

Not showing any quit, Emily Akelaitis got a two-out pitch that she liked and lifted it over the fence in left center field to make it an 8-3 game. Farthing followed with a single, but Beltz again composed herself to get the final out.

“It’s tough to win a game against a quality opponent when you spot them four runs in the first inning,” said Zimmerman. “The two errors in that first inning didn’t help, but when you look at it, it might have only meant that we lost by a smaller margin.

“I’m not saying that Southern Lehigh wasn’t better today, but do I think they’re that much better? No way. I’m proud of the way that our girls battled and we’ve got to forget about it.”

The Lady Tigers did forget about it and came right back two days later to beat Wilson 7-3 and shutout Northern Lehigh 2-0 on Monday. Stofflet had two hits and three RBI against Wilson (11-5, 8-5) and Ashley Sisco had two hits and drove in two runs. Emily Akelaitis completely shut down Northern Lehigh (6-10, 3-10) by allowing just three hits and one walk while whiffing eight batters. At the plate, Molly Mitman had a double and a triple against the Bulldogs.

The Tigers play at Pen Argyl (11-4, 9-4) Friday before hosting Salisbury (7-9, 5-7) on Monday and Catasauqua (0-16, 0-14) on Tuesday to end the regular season.

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZNorthwestern's Ashley Sisco receives a throw during a recent game.