Kids fall to Zephyrs in district playoffs
The Northampton softball team’s dreams of a District XI title and a PIAA playoff berth died in the glove of Whitehall center fielder Meghan Hutter.
In a game that was played over the course of two days because of three postponements due to rain, the Kids were on the wrong end of two plays worthy of SportsCenter Top 10 consideration.
In Thursday’s part 1 of the contest, the Kids had just surpassed the Zephyrs’ 1-0 third inning advantage with two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. With Maddie Fraley standing on second after driving in the go-ahead run with a two-out double, cleanup hitter Hannah Boggs hit a shot over the center field fence. Hutter leaned into the fence and her outstretched arm snagged the ball, denying Northampton two additional runs.
Whitehall tacked on 3 runs in the top of the fifth before rain halted play with the Kids at bat in the bottom of the inning, a runner on second, no outs, and trailing 4-2.
When the game resumed on Friday, head coach Kristy Henritzy aggressively had pinch runner Nikki Secara attempt to steal second. She was narrowly thrown out.
Taylor Kranzley hit the next pitch over the center field fence to cut the lead to 4-3.
The Zephyrs pushed the lead back to two runs in the top of the sixth with a double and an RBI single.
Northampton had a pair of one-out singles in the bottom of the sixth, but was unable to score.
After Whitehall scored three runs in the top of the seventh to make the score 8-3, the situation looked hopeless, but the Kids didn’t give up.
Kranzley led off the bottom of the last inning with a double. Pinch hitter Taylor Fegley singled. After a pop out, Kendyll Strohl (running for Fegley) stole second. Fraley drove in both runners with a hard single to center to cut the deficit to 8-5.
Fraley advanced to second on a fielder’s choice and the Kids were down to their last out.
Maddie Biechy singled to right, driving in Fraley to make it 8-6 and the potential tying run coming to the plate.
Emily Stuhldreher drew a 4-pitch walk, bringing the potential winning run to the plate.
Katelyn Stuhldreher hit a sinking line drive into center. Hutter charged in, dove at full extension, and raised her glove containing the yellow ball to end the game.
An emotional Henritzy spoke about her team whose season ended too soon.
“I’m proud of who they are,” she said. “I’m proud of what they’ve accomplished. It shows the type of kids we have when we’re putting that type of comeback on the board. It’s just a really tough loss for us.”
Lock Haven-bound senior Hannah Boggs put a cap on the season and her Northampton career.
“We just all came together as a team,” she said. “We were such a family. We picked each other up and never stopped going. I’ve had a great coaching staff, great teammates every year. Just a great experience overall. I wish it could keep going.