Tunkhannock captured the Section 3 major softball Little League Championship with a 12-11 win over Williamsport on Sunday.
This series was a renewal of one of the best rivalries in the region’s Little League softball. The Tigers met Williamsport two years ago and defeated them twice in close games to earn a spot to the State Championship then for 8-9-10 year-olds.
Williamsport didn’t forget that and was eager for a rematch this year.
Tunkhannock’s players seemed to have targets on their backs, but the girls were resilient.
Tunkhannock’s offense faced rough odds and had patience, as well as stable mindsets, to be able to battle back from the loser’s bracket to the eventual championship game.
The Tunks looked good in the opening round on Tuesday, July 3, blanking Central Columbia, 10-0.
But on the Fourth of July the fireworks were with Williamsport who blanked the Tigers, 4-0.
The loss was a wake up call, dropping Tunkhannock back in the loser’s bracket.They initially struggled but pulled out a 3-2 win over Minersville on Friday in a game delayed a day on account of rain.
The second game against Williamsport on the Old Lycoming Field was a barnburner.
With only three hits entering the bottom of the sixth inning, Paige Marabell took the first pitch she saw and launched it deep over the fence.
Her walk-off home run gave Tunkhannock a 3-2 win and forced Sunday’s rematch.
Game three proved to be very exciting, and much higher scoring, than the first two games.
Williamsport came out in the top of the first and scored three runs. Tunkhannock would answer right back, however, by scoring four in the bottom of the first.
The game almost seemed to slip away from the team through the third and fourth inning as Tunkhannock fell behind 11-5.
Tunkhannock refused to give up to Williamsport, the District 12 Champions.
The Tigers scored four more runs in the bottom of the fourth. They shut down Williamsport in the top of the fifth and then added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game at eleven.
Neither team scored in the sixth to force the game to an extra inning.
Tunkhannock was able to keep Williamsport off the board in the top of the seventh and would come out ready for the win in the bottom of the seventh.
Marabell was intentionally walked with one out to put what Tunkhannock hoped to be the winning run on first. Marabell advanced to second on a pass ball. Cali Wisnosky singled a hard line drive to move the winning run to third.
Sydney Huff took the plate next to try and drive in the winning run. She put the ball in play but Williamsport tagged Marabell out at home.
With Wisnosky now at third and two outs, Erin Van Ness stepped into the box with hopes of driving in the winning run.
Van Ness cracked a ground ball single allowing Wisnosky to score the winning run.
Winning pitcher Kaya Hannon threw all seven innings in the game, striking out 10.
This victory secured the Tunkhannock Major All-Stars a spot in the Pennsylvania State Tournament.
Two years earlier many of the girls were on the state champion team for 8-9-10-year-olds.
The gals arrived at the Caln Township fields in Chester County Monday night for opening ceremonies.
Tunkhannock was set to open ball play Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. against Warrington, winners of Section 6. The winner of that game was scheduled to play a game at 7 p.m. on July 11 against the winner of the Tuesday game between St. Mary’s and Morrisville.
The losers would play again on July 11 at 2 p.m. in the double elimination tourney.
The other four teams in the tournament are Fairchance, Mifflin County, Pittston Area, and Avon Grove.
(Thanks to Katie Wisnosky for her game observations from Sunday.)