Eberhard pitches St. Basil past Kutztown, into PIAA Class AA semifinals

ALLENTOWN — Nichole Eberhard knew her arm would be tired.

But that wasn’t going to stop her from taking the circle Thursday afternoon. A four-year starting pitcher, her competitive side wouldn’t allow for anything less.

Eberhard fought through a little fatigue and spun another stellar outing as she pitched St. Basil to a 5-1 win over Kutztown in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class AA playoffs at Patriots Park.

“I knew I was going to throw,’ Eberhard said. “I also knew my arm was going to be sore, but I just pushed through it.

“Toward the end of the game my arm started to feel a little tired but I knew my defense was behind me to back me up.’

A day after throwing eight shutout innings against Palmerton, Eberhard sent the Panthers on to their first-ever state semifinal appearance. The senior righty mixed her pitches, located and let her defense do the work behind her.

Eberhard finished with six strikeouts against two walks and allowed just two hits. Meanwhile, she clocked a double and got all the cushion she needed when battery mate Amanda Clark delivered a two-run double in the third inning.

“It’s a lot better knowing you have runs on the board and they now have to battle and try to beat you,’ Clark said. “There’s a lot less pressure.’

Eberhard was quick and efficient for most of the outing, needing just five pitches to escape the first. She retired the Cougars in order in four of seven innings and only allowed multiple base runners in the fourth, where Kutztown scored its sole run.

St. Basil went down quickly in the bottom of the first, but Clark saw something she passed along to Eberhard, who was due up to start the bottom of the next frame. The senior ace took the advice and hit the first pitch she saw out for a double, turning it into a run when courtesy runner Lisa Toroni stole third and came in on a single by Carly Jepsen.

“I said to Amanda is there anything to watch and she said first pitch strike down the middle,’ Eberhard said. “I just swung and it worked.’

The Panthers blew the game open the next inning after No. 9 hitter Kelly Ryan singled and stole second. Abby Carter reached on an errant throw then Myranda Gormley dropped a suicide squeeze to plate Kelly. Clark followed that up with a double to clear the other bases and later scored on an RBI groundout by Jensen.

“I was looking for a first-pitch strike,’ Clark said. “I’m always looking for my pitch to hit.’

That was all Eberhard would need, even as Kutztown pulled a run back on an RBI double by Kylie Balthasar in the next half-inning. Wednesday, St. Basil pulled off a 1-0 win over District 11 champ Palmerton in extras, so the senior ace had muc

“It felt a lot better than (Wednesday’s) game,’ Eberhard said. “It helped a lot, I had a lot of room to do what I do.’


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