SCRANTON — When Abington Heights was in need of a big hit, third baseman Kaylee DeMatteo came up huge.
After the Lady Comets left seven runners on base through the first four innings, DeMatteo looped an RBI single over second base to score Cassidy Bartkowski, who singled to start the rally.
Nina Kozar, who walked, scored when the ball bounced into the Pittston Area dugout on an errant throw to third base on the play.
Those runs held up as top-seeded Abington Heights (13-2) edged seventh-seeded Pittston Area (8-8), 2-1, in the District 2/11 Class 5A subregional softball championship game May 30.
“As a senior, my job is to be the biggest leader I can,” DeMatteo said. “It really felt good to be able to help the team with that hit and get us back in the game.
“It was very frustrating (early), because the past few games we were really on, but I had faith in this team and we earned it. We came in with the mindset that we can come back and win the game no matter what. We really stayed positive and I think that was the big key.”
Pittston Area took an early lead when Gabby Para led off the first inning with a walk and scored on a single by Alexa McHugh.
Abington Heights head coach John Kelly was impressed with the composure pitcher Meghan McGinley showed in the circle after facing some adversity.
“She struggled a little bit early. I think that was just jitters for her first big game, but she settled down and pitched a heck of a game,” he said. “The defense also played well behind her.”
Abington Heights second baseman Naudia Solan, who also had two hits on offense, turned a double play in the second inning after McGinley walked a batter.
Abington Heights had two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the second inning after singles by DeMatteo and Solan, and a sacrifice bunt by McGinley, but Para made a nice play in center field on a hard hit ball by Mara Hamm to keep the Lady Comets off the scoreboard.
“We were hitting the ball hardl; we were just hitting it at them and they made a couple really nice plays,” Kelly said. “The one Mara Hamm hit to the gap, all year that’s a double or triple, but that girl made a heck of a catch.”
Pittston Area threatened in both the sixth and seventh innings, but was unable to break through with the game-tying run.
McHugh and Morgan Mesaris singled in the sixth, but McGinley struck out Madisyn Antal looking and induced a pop out from Shayla Williams to end the threat.
“The biggest thing for me was hitting my spots every inning and trying to stay as focused as I could throughout the whole game,” McGinley said.
Taryn Ashby singled with one out in the seventh and Para followed with a walk. For the second consecutive inning, McGinley made the pitches to work out of a jam.
She fielded a grounder to get a force out at the third base before McHugh grounded out to end the game.
“We showed resiliency,” Kelly said. “The girls never got down or nervous, they were very confident the whole game and I think that bodes well for us going forward.”
Abington Heights will play the fourth seed from District 1 at a site and time to be determined on Monday, June 5 in the first round of the PIAA tournament.
“Once we realized what we needed to do to win, we had the goal in mind and we all worked together as a team to get it,” Bartkowski said.”We’re all a very close family; we built off last year and tried to progress forward and keep it going.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.