S. ABINGTON TWP. — Abington Heights’ Nina Kozar understood the important of the game and did all she could to make sure her team came away with the win.
The junior had two hits, including a home run, and threw out two runners on the base paths during the Lady Comets’ 7-1 win over Valley View in a Lackawanna League Division 1 softball game Friday afternoon.
Abington Heights (3-1) was defeated by North Pocono, 4-2, in a Division 1 game Thursday and didn’t want to fall two games behind West Scranton (3-0) and Valley View (2-1).
“I think that loss really empowered us and got our minds focused,” Kozar said. “The team came through and it was a great win.”
Lady Comets pitcher Meghan McGinley, who scattered five hits over seven innings, struck out the first two batters of the game and retired Valley View in order in the first inning.
Her strong start in the circle set the stage for Abington Heights’ offense to break out for three runs in the bottom of the inning.
Senior shortstop Cassidy Bartkowski singled and reached third base on a throwing error to start the rally. Sophomore first baseman Catherine Anne Kupinski followed with an RBI groundout, freshman Bailey White followed with an RBI double and senior second baseman Naudia Solan drove in a run with a single.
White, who had two hits and two RBIs, believes Bartkowski’s at-bat sparked the whole team.
“When one girl starts everything going, it gets everybody else super hyped and makes everything a lot easier with the tension,” White said.
Three errors by Valley View proved to be very costly in the first inning.
“Whenever there is an error, whether it’s against us or for us, a lot of times it turns the game around,” said Abington Heights head coach John Kelly.
McGinley retired the Lady Cougars in order, again, in the second inning to keep the momentum in Abington Heights’ favor.
“Her changeup and screwball were awesome today,” Kelly said. “They were hitting a lot of foul balls and I kept telling her that’s all they are going to do with that pitch. Then, she’d have them start looking inside and hit the outside corner. She was really on with her spots today, which is huge for her.”
Valley View freshman left fielder Lexi Chapman got the Lady Cougars’ first hit in the top of the third, but was thrown out by Kozar while attempting to steal second base.
Kozar also made an impact at the plate, driving a ball over the fence in right-center field for a solo home run to put Abington Heights ahead 4-0 in the bottom of the third.
“It was a changeup,” Kozar said. “I actually wanted to hold back, but I was committed to the pitch and I was able to take it that far. I was very thankful.”
Valley View’s offense came alive in the top of the fourth when senior center fielder Olivia Muchal doubled and scored on an RBI single by senior second baseman Jenn Nguyen.
Kozar made another strong throw from behind the plate to catch Nguyen trying to steal second base and get the Lady Comets out of the inning.
Kozar shifted from first base to catcher when Kupinski suffered an injury during the preseason, but hasn’t been fazed by the switch.
“My main position is catcher in travel ball,” she said. “I had to step in for the school team, and it’s been a humbling experience being able to play two positions and have all the girls work together to accommodate it.”
Valley View freshman pitcher Alyssa Marion had retired seven consecutive Abington Heights batters before the Lady Comets struck for three more runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Pinch-hitter Shaelyn Kobrynich doubled and scored on a throwing error, Kupinski singled to drive in Mara Hamm, who walked, and White drew a walk with the bases loaded to knock in a run.
“We have a really good hitting coach,” Kelly said. “Vic Thomas works with all of our hitters and, if they listen to him, they’re going to do well. We spend a lot of time on our hitting and it shows.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.