May 1—POTTSVILLE — As her senior softball season at Nativity winds down, Samantha Heenan is enjoying every moment.
And Friday's 6-2, Schuylkill League Division II win over Minersville is a moment Heenan will remember for a long time.
The right-hander threw a complete-game four-hitter and slammed a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first inning to set the tone for a victory over the rival Miners atop Lawton's Hill.
"It's a great win. We just came together today, and we just played as a team," Heenan said. "We fielded, we hit, we did everything that we needed to do, and we just came out on top."
After retiring Minersville 1-2-3 in the top of the first inning, Heenan led off the bottom half with a blast to deep left-center field. She circled the bases easily for a 1-0 lead.
"I think it really got us going, to be able to score a run in the first inning and to carry that on later, I think it really gave everybody a lot of energy," Heenan said. "We were just off for a week and a couple days (COVID), so it's nice to be able to come out — it's our second game back — and it's great to be able to win."
Minersville (8-5, 6-3 D-II) never led but rallied twice to tie the game. The Miners knotted the score 1-1 in the third when Shea Hossler walked, stole second, took third on an error and scored on Abby Adams' RBI groundout.
Nativity (7-3, 3-3) regained the lead 2-1 in the fourth when Mikaya Beadle singled and came round to score on two Minersville errors.
"We have to eliminate mistakes if we want to win games," Minersville coach Jamie Kuehn said. "That's a good team. They came ready to play, and we didn't. ... That's been our story all year. When we eliminate mistakes, when we play play error-free — and our pitching erases a lot of those mistakes — when the ball gets put in play, we're getting exposed. We're working on it. We're hoping to get better, it just hasn't happened yet. And it's going to have to. If we want to keep the season going, it's going to have to."
The Miners drew even at 2-2 in the fifth when Hossler walked and scored on MaKaila Frie-Karkanica's RBI double down the left-field line.
Nativity scored four more unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth to go ahead to stay.
With one out, Caelan Quick reached on an infield error and motored to third on Ryliegh Sinko's single, Sinko taking second on the throw to third base.
Minersville, though, came one pitch away from getting out of the jam unscathed. After pitcher Aramie Arroyo notched a strikeout for the second out, the Miners intentionally walked Heenan to load the bases. Helena Polinsky fell into an 0-2 hole, but stayed alive with a pair of foul balls. The next pitch bore inside and hit Polinsky, forcing in the go-ahead run. Beadle followed with a single to deep right-center, and all three runners raced around the bases to make it 6-2.
Pitching with the lead most of the day, Heenan got stronger as the game went on. After Frie-Karkanica's double in the fifth, Heenan retired eight of the final nine batters she faced and recorded three of her six strikeouts.
Arroyo took the loss despite allowing just five hits, striking out 13 and giving up just the one intentional walk. Only one of the runs she allowed was earned.
"The older kids are coming around a little bit to where they were, and the younger kids are starting to see what it takes," Nativity coach Chuck Rushannon said. "Like I told them at the beginning of the season, as long as we keep getting better, the end of the year is what matters. And that's what we're looking for. As the season goes by, we are getting better. So that's all I can ask for.
"We've got to build on this and keep going," he added. "Hopefully we do it."
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-628-6012: @boblipskyRH on Twitter