WEDNESDAY'S HS SOFTBALL: Hieber, Myers help Wallenpaupack beat Valley View

PALMYRA TWP. — Wallenpaupack needed a victory Wednesday to keep alive its hope of gaining a share of the Lackawanna League Division I softball title.

Batterymates Gabby Hieber and Hunter Myers helped make sure that happened.

After a bit of a shaky start, Hieber held a potent Valley View lineup in check while Myers blasted a two-run home run to cap a 6-2 victory by the Lady Buckhorns over the Cougars at Wallenpaupack Primary School field.

“The kids rose to the occasion,” Wallenpaupack coach Phil Babyak said. “You can never count them out. There’s a lot of playmakers, they play with a lot of intensity and they get up for the big games. I’m super proud of them.”

Things didn’t start well for Wallenpaupack (14-3 overall, 11-2 league), as three batters into the game Valley View had a 1-0 lead. Kalli Karwowski, who finished with three hits, reached on an error, stole second and scored on a one-out single by Ally Stafursky.

That prompted coach Babyak to come out of the dugout and visit the pitching circle. His message: Shake it off, settle down and don’t panic.

“He told us to just keep playing our game and control what we can control,” Hieber said.

From there, Hieber was in control. The sophomore retired the final two batters to end the first inning. Then whenever the Cougars (16-2, 12-1) mounted a threat the rest of the way, she shut them down.

Her final line: Two runs (one earned) on six hits with one walk and three strikeouts.

“It’s absolutely the pitcher. But she had the team behind her, making and collecting those outs,” Valley View coach Mia Wascura said. “She had us on the tip of our toes with that changeup. She was executing it well. She had us off our A game.”

In the bottom of the first, Wallenpaupack answered. Madison Haynes reached on a two-base error, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored when Hieber lofted a sacrifice fly to left field.

“That was huge,” Hieber said. “Maddie did a good job to get on; she’s been pretty solid for us. But it felt good because normally when we get down, we kind of stay down. But it felt good to get up and stay up.”

Three consecutive solid two-out singles by Wren Frederick, Allie Sterner and Haynes in the bottom of the second gave the Lady Buckhorns a 2-1 lead.

Then, to open the bottom of the third, Myers walked, Kailyn Kielbasa had an infield single and Clara Babyak laid down a perfect bunt for a single to load the bases with no outs. Emily Sterner had an RBI groundout and Karleigh Weist executed a sacrifice squeeze bunt to plate Kielbasa and extend the advantage to 4-1.

“They had some quality at-bats against Abbi,” Wascura said. “Valley View softball prides itself on defense and we had some silly errors that led to runs. But Wallenpaupack is a well-coached team and those kids came to play today.”

Valley View got one of the runs back in the top of the fourth. Abbi Call led off with a walk and Ella Swingle singled with two outs. A pair of wild pitches brought home courtesy runner Payton Buczynski to make it 4-2.

However, in the bottom of the fourth, Hieber was hit by a pitch with one out and lifted for courtesy runner Luy Babyak. Myers followed by rocketing a 3-2 pitch from Call over the fence in left-center for a two-run home run and a 6-2 Lady Buckhorns lead. It came after the 2-2 pitch from Call was just a bit inside and called ball three.

“She’s a really good pitcher who throws really hard, so I knew if I got a hold of it, it would go really far,” Myers said. “It was a battle. I kept fouling off pitches and kept learning every time. Then I just got hold of one. I knew it was going to go far, it felt nice coming off the bat.”

Added coach Babyak: “Hunter’s home run was a great insurance policy. If it’s a two-run game without Hunter’s home run, it’s much different. You’re playing with a lot more pressure. But that took a lot of pressure off.”

Despite the loss, Valley View can still win the division outright with a victory over Delaware Valley at home Friday.

Wascura is confident her team will rebound.

“We need to flush this game and move forward,” Wascura said. “DV is a scrappy team. Maybe their record doesn’t show it, but they’ve been putting the bat on the ball. We need to bring all of our effort forth and have better at-bats. I have absolute confidence and faith that we will pull through.

“Sometimes a loss can show some character. It might not be such a bad thing because there are definitely things we need to work on. So, this can be a learning lesson for our kids going forward.”

Meanwhile, Wallenpaupack needs a Delaware Valley upset and to beat Scranton Prep in its regular-season finale Saturday to tie for the division title.

“Things definitely can happen,” Hieber said. “DV played a tough game against us. Maybe they’ll have some confidence.”

Wallenpaupack 6, Valley View 2

Wallenpaupack 6, Valley View 2

Valley View 100 100 0 — 2

Wallenpaupack 112 200 x — 6

WP: Gabby Hieber 7IP, 6H, 2R, 1ER, 1BB, 3SO

LP: Abbi Call 6IP, 7H, 6R, 5ER, 2BB, 7SO

2B: Abbi Call (VV) 2, Gabby Hieber (WAL).

HR: Hunter Myers (WAL).

Records: WAL 14-3, 11-2; VV 16-2, 12-1.

Valley View1001000—2Wallenpaupack112200x—6WP: Gabby Hieber 7IP, 6H, 2R, 1ER, 1BB, 3SOLP: Abbi Call 6IP, 7H, 6R, 5ER, 2BB, 7SO2B: Abbi Call (VV) 2, Gabby Hieber (WAL).HR: Hunter Myers (WAL).Records: WAL 14-3, 11-2; VV 16-2, 12-1.