TOWAMENCIN >> In the midst of striking out 13 batters in a dominant performance on the mound, Julia Shearer smacked her 100th career hit for North Penn.
In just two seasons.
“That’s just unbelievable,” Knights coach Rick Torresani said after his squad’s state opener with Whitehall Monday. “That’s just the kind of player she is.”
Shearer’s pitching, hitting and base running all made an impact in the Knights’ PIAA-6A First Round contest, as NP earned an impressive 5-0 victory over the Zephyrs.
Sarah Sabocsik and Annabelle Smink each drove in two runs, Gianna Cimino had three hits, and the Knights looked plenty ready to defend their title, putting together an all-around performance on the diamond at sunny NP.
The Knights will take on the winner of the Williamsport-Haverford game (Monday, 4:30 p.m.) in the state quarterfinals on Thursday.
“Starting off strong, we haven’t been doing that recently, getting ahead in the first inning,” said Shearer, a junior. “So being able to do that, starting off with a bang, it really got our momentum going.”
In NP’s first at-bat, Shearer hit a single up the middle to lead off, stole second, and alertly raced over to third on a defensive miscue by Whitehall.
Sabocsik drew a walk and Smink’s ground ball allowed Shearer to race home and it was quickly 1-0.
Cimino’s hard-hit grounder to left scored Sabocsik to make it 2-0 Knights.
In the third, Shearer belted a triple over the reach of center fielder Hanna Bundra, then scored moments later on a ground ball by Sabocsik to make it 3-0.
The fifth inning saw Shearer reach the 100-hit milestone.
“I’ve been waiting for this,” Shearer said with a smile. “It’s exciting (to already hit 100), still being young and having another year.”
The NP lead grew to 5-0 in the fifth when a ground ball by Sabocsik scored Reyna Doherty and a single by Smink drove in Shearer.
On the mound, Shearer retired the first 10 batters she faced, and would go on to strike out 13 while allowing just two hits with no walks and one hit batter.
“As the game went on, I just adapted to what was working and what wasn’t working,” the lefty said.
The Knights were able to adjust to Whitehall hurler Kassy Aquino. NP had gone against faster pitching the last three games, but was able to lock in.
Cimino, in particular, came through with three disciplined at-bats.
“Gi really focused,” Torresani said of her staying within her zone. “That’s what she did today and she hit the ball hard. And she adjusted really well.”
It’s one down, possibly three to go for the defending champs.
“It’s really hard (to repeat), but we’re confident,” Cimino said.
PIAA-6A First Round
North Penn 5, Whitehall 0
Whitehall 000 000 0 – 0 2 2
North Penn 201 020 x – 5 8 0
WP: Julia Shearer (7IP, 0R, 2H, 13K, 0BB, 1HBP).
LP: Kassy Aquino (6IP, 5R, 3ER, 8H, 3H, 1BB).
Multiple hits: NP-Shearer 3-for-3, 3R; Cimino 3-for-3, RBI.