ALLENTOWN >> Spring-Ford’s Megan Kern blasted a home run in the first inning. She didn’t see a good pitch the next two plate appearances.
Yet after seeing Bridget Sharkey lace a double to right during her second plate appearance, Liberty decided to keep going after her.
They got burned. Bad.
Sharkey continued her torrid stretch since entering the lineup in district play, finishing with three doubles and five RBI as Spring-Ford put the game away in the later innings to down District 11 champion Liberty, 9-2, in the PIAA Class 6A quarterfinals Thursday night at Parkland High School.
The win sends Spring-Ford into the PIAA semifinals for the first time in school history. The Rams will face District 2 champion Hazleton, a walk-off 6-5 winner over Council Rock North, Monday at a site and time to be determined.
Sharkey was one of the reasons why.
“It’s crazy that we’ve gotten this far,” Sharkey said. “Our coach stresses a lot on not just playing for ourselves, but the whole Spring-Ford community, past players, the baseball team, the lacrosse team, the whole school. It feels real great to have achieved this, but we’re not done.”
Sharkey finished the game 3-for-4 with doubles in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings — all to deep right field. The sophomore, placed into lineup as a designated player during the start of the district playoffs, is 5-for-8 with four doubles, a triple and seven RBI in the Rams’ past two PIAA playoff wins.
“When Morgan (Maziarz) got hurt last year she (Sharkey) came in and did a heck of a job for us,” Spring-Ford head coach Tim Hughes said. “She struggled a little bit in the beginning of the year but she’s one of a 16-piece cog we have working for us right now and she got her pitches to hit today.”
Kern finished the day with two hits, her home run to right field in the first inning prompting Liberty freshman pitcher Paige Zigmund to walk her on her next two consecutive plate appearances, both on four pitches. She gave Kern something to hit in the seventh inning, which Kern promptly laced off the first-baseman’s glove for a single to spark a four-run inning. Kern scored three runs in the win, same with left fielder Maddie Little.
Reyna deJesus led the Hurricanes with two hits while Jackie Jones and Brooke Zigmund scoring runs in the loss. Cailin Donegan, Paige Zigmund and Alexa Burger each contributed hits in the loss.
Sam Lindsay did her part for Spring-Ford in the circle, working around five hits and five walks to secure the win. The right-hander got out of jams when she needed to, inducing an inning-ending 5-3 double play to close out the third before leaving runners on the corners in the sixth inning with Liberty threatening via a flyout to the sliding Little. Lindsay struck out three, none better than her devastating changeup to close out a 13-pitch at-bat with Liberty’s Kristin Kaleycik.
She was supported throughout by an offense that’s averaged nearly 12 runs per game in their last three wins. The Rams struck for a run in the fifth to make it 2-0 behind Sharkey’s first double of the game that plated Little. They then got three more in the sixth behind a sacrifice fly to right from Sam Lindsay that scored Kern and another double to right from Sharkey to plate two more to make it 5-0. Following Liberty’s two-run bottom half of the inning, the Rams put the game away, Ashley Della Guardia reaching on an error that plated Kern to make it 6-2, a Jules Hughes’ grounder to short that scored Maggie McConney, and finally, Sharkey’s capper — a deep blast to right field for another two-run double.