S. ABINGTON TWP. — Just in case two-time defending district champion Abington Heights needed any added motivation heading into its playoff opener, the first opponent happened to be North Pocono, the team that handed the Lady Comets their only regular season loss.
Abington Heights broke through with four runs in the first inning and cruised to a 9-0 win over the fifth-seeded Lady Trojans in a District 2-11 Class 5A subregional softball semifinal game May 24.
Junior catcher Nina Kozar, who had one of the Lady Comets’ four RBIs in the first inning, felt the team was dedicated to avenge the earlier defeat.
“I think coming out strong and making sure we were together as a team was very important,” Kozar said. “Playing against a team we lost to at the beginning of the season motivated us.”
Sophomore first baseman Catherine Anne Kupinski, freshman center fielder Bailey White and senior designated player Cassidy Bartkowski also each drove in a run for Abington Heights in the first.
Abington Heights senior pitcher Meghan McGinley, who allowed four hits while striking out five batters, thought the offensive outburst helped the team settle into the game after a bit of a shaky top of the first inning.
“I had the first inning jitters, we all did, and those four runs took it all away,” McGinley said. “We played really calm the rest of the game. It’s a big relief when you know everyone is a strong hitter.”
Senior shortstop Naudia Solan, who finished with two hits, singled and scored on a base hit by Kupinski to give Abington Heights a 5-0 lead after two innings.
North Pocono sophomore third baseman Dayle Smith smacked a double to the fence in left field to begin the fourth inning, but was later called out for runner’s interference and McGinley struck out the next two batters.
“I felt really good today,” McGinley said. “My mechanics were all there and I felt like I was throwing pretty hard.”
Abington Heights sophomore third baseman Mara Hamm, who had three hits, doubled to start the bottom of the fourth and scored on a sacrifice fly by Kupinski. Kozar provided the big blow in the inning with a two-run home run.
“That was such a great feeling,” Kozar said. “I struggled a little bit at the beginning of the game, but when I saw that pitch come in I knew it was going to happen. It was great being able to contribute for my team.”
Kupinski drove in her fourth run of the game with a hard single down the third-base line in the bottom of the fifth inning.
“I was trying to do anything to help my team,” Kupinski said. “My goal is to put something in play where the runners can advance or score. It felt good off the bat, but I didn’t think it was going to be fair.”
Junior center fielder Carissa Giordano doubled in the sixth for North Pocono (10-5), but McGinley induced two conseutive pop-outs to keep the Lady Trojans off the scoreboard.
Top-seeded Abington Heights (13-1) will play third-seeded Pittston Area (9-5), a 1-0 winner over Wallenpaupack, for the district title May 30 at a site and time to be determined.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.