Hamburg shuts out Wilson to capture first Berks softball title since 2010

May 17—For the past three years, early exits from the Berks Softball League playoffs were an all too common occurrence for Hamburg.

Led by a core group of four seniors, the Hawks entered the 2024 season hungry to show they could contend for a county title.

"We knew we had that fire underneath us," senior starting pitcher Hailey Strunk said. "We knew we were going to take it and run with it."

And on Thursday night, Hamburg proved it belonged among the county's best.

The No. 2 seed Hawks took a big lead early and never looked back, defeating top-seeded Wilson 8-0 in the Berks final under a light rain at Lyons Field.

"It means everything," senior second baseman Hailie Edwards said. "We've come short when it comes to counties. To finally be here, it means a lot."

The title is Hamburg's first since 2010. The Hawks lost in the semifinals as the No. 3 seed in 2021 and as the No. 2 seed last year, and they were upset in the quarterfinals as the No. 2 seed in 2022.

"(They) play for each other, that's a big thing," Hamburg coach Zena Lutz said. "The attitude and the camaraderie of the girls is just something we've never had."

The Hawks (20-3) played sound defense and leaned heavily on Strunk's dominant performance in the circle to pick up the win. Hamburg did not commit an error for the second time in its last four games.

"It leaves me speechless," Strunk said about the win. "I have no words."

A Jacksonville commit, Strunk allowed just three hits and two walks in the complete-game shutout, her eighth shutout win of the season. She struck out four against Wilson's league-leading offense.

"She was awesome today," Lutz said about Strunk. "They didn't get good bats on the ball the whole game. I thought she spotted her pitches really well."

Hamburg took control early, capitalizing on several Wilson mistakes. The Bulldogs (19-4) committed five errors in the first inning, allowing the Hawks to take a 4-0 lead.

"That's what we try to do, we just try to get an early start," Lutz said. "That's our goal every game."

After senior right fielder Kylah Reading scored on an error, Strunk followed with a single. She came around to score one batter later on an RBI double from shortstop Norah Davey, giving Hamburg a 2-0 lead.

"We were patient," Strunk said. "We worked the count."

Catcher Shayna Morales followed two batters later with a two-run single, which allowed Davey and Edwards to score to make it 4-0. Morales finished 2-for-3.

The Hawks extended their lead to 6-0 in the third with a two-run double from Edwards, which allowed Strunk and Davey to score. Edwards finished 2-for-4 with two doubles, three RBIs and a run scored.

"Hailie had a really nice game today," said Lutz, Edwards' aunt. "She works hard."

Hamburg made it 7-0 in the fourth with an RBI single from Davey, which brought home third baseman Jenna Shuman. Davey finished 3-for-3 with two doubles, two RBIs, three runs scored and a walk.

"I just went up there with the mindset that I could do it," Davey said. "Last game was pretty rough, but this time I had the confidence."

The Hawks added their final run in the seventh, as an RBI double from Edwards brought Davey home. Eight different Hamburg players reached base in the game.

"We were all aggressive and helped each other when it came to where the pitches were," Davey said. "We worked together."

Meghan Farrell started in the circle for the Bulldogs and took the loss. She pitched three innings, allowing five runs, four of which were unearned, and five hits.

Sister Madi Farrell pitched four innings in relief. She allowed three runs, all of which were earned, and six hits.

"They gave it everything they had," Wilson coach Gregg Kramer said about his pitchers. "It was an OK performance, honestly. It was Hamburg's bats, they hit well."

Thursday night marked the 16th time this season in which the Hawks scored eight or more runs. Hamburg scored a total of 25 runs across three Berks playoff games after scoring no more than seven runs in any of their five county playoff games in the past three years.

"We play to have fun," Strunk said. "Once you have fun, nothing can stop you."