The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

June 5, 2014

High School Softball: Halifax's season ends in state quarters

BLOOMSBURG — The town of Bloomsburg hasn’t exactly been too kind to Halifax’s softball team. Twelve years ago, when the school captured its first District 3 title, current Halifax coach Tracy Cox was sitting in the stands watching the Wildcats, who ended up losing in the quarterfinals at Bloomsburg.

On Thursday, in just the school’s second PIAA quarterfinal game in program history, Halifax lost again, this time at Bloomsburg University with Cox in the dugout.

It may not have been the same exact field as in 2002, but it was within the same town borders.

“We’re not ever coming back to Bloomsburg again. We’re just going to tell them to find a new venue,” Cox joked.

Halifax ran into a buzzsaw in Minersville, the District 11 champion, and lost 12-2 in five innings at Jan Hutchinson Field.

Halifax (15-9) held a lead over the Miners (21-3) in the top of the first inning, but it was short-lived. With two outs, Morgan Cox hit a single into shallow before Chelsea Konyar then drilled a double down the left-field line to bring Cox in and put Halifax ahead, 1-0.

Minersville responded immediately in the bottom of the first though, going through the lineup while collecting five hits.

Reighly Melochick and Adrienne Kroznuskie both started the inning with first-pitch singles before Emily Mealey had a huge two-RBI double two batters later. By the time Halifax recorded the third out, Minersville had built a 5-1 lead.

“We got two singles on the first two pitches in the first inning,” Melochick said. “Once one person starts hitting, it’s like a chain reaction: We all tend to follow.”

Minersville would score at least one run in all five innings. The Miners led 6-1 after two innings before proceeding to blow the game wide open in the third.

Mora Bentz (2-for-3) hit an RBI-double into center to drive a run in before Alyse Ryan was walked. Leadoff batter Melochick belted an RBI-double into center before Kroznuskie drilled a deep shot down the left-field line for two RBIs to make it a 10-1 lead.

“If we could’ve kept it tight, we’d have given them a run. But they got five in the first; (but) I wasn’t worried. 5-1, we can come back from that,” Halifax coach Tracy Cox said. “Then they started little by little (scoring), and you get to 10-1, that’s when you know you got to get your seniors in.”

As a team, Minersville collected 11 hits off senior Konyar while Halifax was held to just three total.

“They can hit. They came out and they’re not even taking pitches. They’re hitting the first pitch,” Tracy Cox said. “We had a couple (hits) here and there, and that’s our forte, we try to get a couple here and there, but they outhit us. No other explanation. I thought our pitching was just as good, but they hit better than we did. That’s the bottom line.”

Halifax stranded two runners in the second inning and one in the third before going three up, three down in the fourth. The Wildcats scored a run in the top of the fifth when Chelsea Walker went home during a pickle between first and second with Paige Miller.

The Miners ended the game in the fifth with two outs when Halifax tried to pick off Kroznuskie on her way to third. The throw was off the mark, and the error allowed the Miner to trot home safely for the game-ending run with the mercy rule enforced.

Of Halifax’s three hits, two were doubles. However, the Wildcats failed to garner momentum when needed.

“We played solid defense,” Melochick said. “Riley (Gerenda) pitched well and we have her back behind her.”

Gerenda recorded six strikeouts on the day and, after giving up three hits in the first two innings — two in the first — the Minersville righty held Halifax hitless the final three innings.

Gerenda also made an incredible snag off a line drive by Cox in the top of the fifth to end the inning.

“She came up with that great snag off Morgan’s line drive. It was either that or lose your head,” Tracy Cox said with a laugh. “That was key. She gets that going and we’re still rolling, who knows, because we had Konyar coming up next.”

While Cox and the rest of the Wildcats were surely hoping for a huge upset victory to appear in the semifinals for the first time in school history, the season Halifax has had has been nothing short of amazing for the team.

The school captured its second District 3 title, avenging a loss to Upper Dauphin in the semifinals the year prior, en route to its second PIAA quarterfinals appearance.

“I’ll miss my seniors,” Cox said. “It was a great ride.”

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