Daniel Boone advances past Hazleton in PIAA Class AAAA playoffs

WILKES-BARRE — One more day together.

That’s the mentality Daniel Boone carried through its District 3-AAAA runner-up playoff run.

It’s also the mentality the Blazers took into their 1-0 win over Hazleton in the opening round of the PIAA Class AAAA tournament on Wednesday evening at Wilkes University’s Ralston Athletic Complex.

With the win, Daniel Boone will face Penn Manor — 2-0 winners over Owen J. Roberts — the No. 4 seed from District 3 on Thursday at Lyons Field, 4 p.m.

“It’s been our motto: Let’s work to play one more day together,’ said Daniel Boone head coach Traci Huddleson. “They do whatever it takes to win. I know the girls weren’t ready for the season to come to an end. I think their all-around effort proves that.’

Jenna Piccarreta proved the difference in the top of the sixth inning as she knocked the go-ahead RBI single to left to score Kamryn Giunta (courtesy running for catcher Savannah Toth) and give Bekah Slattery all the support she’d need in the circle.

“I just went to the plate and waited for my pitch to hit,’ said right fielder Piccarreta. “That was definitely the best chance we put together to get a run. I’m really glad I was given that chance (to knock in the game-winning run).’

The sophomore almost didn’t have the chance.

Coming into the game, Piccarreta’s spot in the batting order wasn’t exactly set in stone. Throughout the season, the Blazers had often used a designated hitter in her place.

She knew she needed to take advantage of her coach’s trust in her.

“I knew I could do great things (at the plate),’ she said. “I was excited and ready for the opportunity. Whether I’m hitting or just playing the field, it doesn’t really matter to me. Just as long as we get the win.’

“She earned it,’ said Huddleson. “She’s been battling all season, and her time came. So we made the change. I had a ton of faith in her.’

Piccarreta’s RBI was all Slattery would need as she only seemed to get stronger on the mound as each inning went on.

The senior left-hander went all seven innings where she held the Cougars to no runs on just six hits while striking out 11 batters.

“Everything was working well for me on the mound,’ she said. “They got on me in the first few innings, but I knew I had my teammates behind me. I trust them all the way, every single one of them.’

In the bottom half of the first, the Daniel Boone defense showed a prime example of the ace’s trust.

With a runner on third, Hazleton’s Lexi Wolk hit a chopper to Sydney Hayes at short.

Hayes scooped it up and fired to Samantha Toth behind the plate who put on the tag and prevented the run from scoring.

First baseman Gabby Willman was another prime example of her ace’s trust in the bottom of the fifth.

With a Hazleton runner in scoring position, Willman knocked down a hard hit grounder down the line and dove to the bag, just barely beating the runner to keep the scoreless game intact.

Piccarreta, Toth and left fielder Alyssa Garner each posted two-hit games while Slattery added a double in the top of the sixth.

Hazleton pitcher Celine Podlesney was just as effective on the mound until the seventh inning, as she let up just one run on eight hits and no walks.

“Celine did a great job on the mound for us,’ said Hazleton head coach Adrienne Rebarchak. “It’s a shame to have your pitcher take a loss after letting up just one run. We couldn’t string the hits together that we needed to. All the credit goes to Bekah Slattery on the mound. She really kept us on our toes.’

Slattery will look to her experience two seasons ago, when the Blazers advanced to the quarterfinals only to eventually fall to Neshaminy, as the Blazers proceed and keep trying to play another day.

“We went this far during my sophomore season,’ she said. “To get back to this point is a dream come true. But we’re not done just yet. We want to keep winning and keep playing. I don’t think anyone is ready for this season to be over.’

And for Piccarreta, who is experiencing the state tournament for the first time, she believes there is a reason her team has gotten to this point.

“We’ve worked hard to come together and be successful,’ she said. “Coach has been pushing us to play our hardest and to play all seven innings each game.’

“We’re excited about this win,’ said Huddleson. “The girls deserve it. They played great and deserved to win this one.’

She admits, though, her team will need to keep the momentum rolling into Thursday if the Blazers want to see another game together.

“We’ll celebrate tonight,’ she said. “On the ride home, we’ll start to shift our mentality to tomorrow (Thursday) and the things we need to do to win again.’

NOTES — Slattery threw 79 strikes and only 26 balls. … The Blazers stranded six Hazleton runners on base while leaving three of their own. … Hayes also had a single for Daniel Boone.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply