The Tunkhannock softball team saved its greatest performance for its most crucial game.
Playing in the state quarterfinals for the first time in program history, senior Paige Mokychic and sophomores Kendra Schultz and Hailey Farr had three hits apiece, leading the Lady Tigers to a 15-4, five-inning win against Eastern York on Thursday at Patriots Park in Allentown.
Mokychic (3 for 4, three RBIs, two runs) and Schultz (3 for 3, two runs) each finished a home run short of the cycle, while Farr hit her first career home run as part of an incredible second inning.
“When they’re having fun, they play loose and they play well and those kinds of things start happening,” said Tigers head coach Bob Hegedty.
The Lady Tigers scored only nine runs in three district playoff games, but batted around the order and scored nine runs all in the second inning Thursday.
“We’ve been smoking the ball at practice and in the cage,” Farr said. “So I knew it was going to happen sometime.”
The District 2 champion Lady Tigers (14-4) advanceed to play District 11 champion Bangor at Wilkes University in Monday’s PIAA Class 4A semifinals.
It is the first Final Four appearance for Tunkhannock or Bangor, which eliminated Wyoming Area, 9-4, earlier this week.
After winning pitcher sophomore Hope Jones stranded an Eastern York runner at third base in the top of Thursday’s first inning, the Tigers’ highlight reel began recording.
Sophomore cleanup hitter Jena Simmons launched a two-run double to center field that scored Jones and Mokychic before scoring on Schultz’s double down the right field line, giving the Lady Tigers a 3-0 lead through one.
An Eastern York runner again reached third base in the second, but senior catcher Danielle Krispin aimed a perfect throw at third baseman Simmons to pick her off and keep the Golden Knights off the board.
“It’s a normal thing between me and Jena,” Krispin said. “We have our little signals to each other — very discreet, under-the-radar type signals — just to keep a heads-up because I might throw it down.”
The Lady Tigers’ nine-run second inning featured major contributions from everyone in the lineup, even on outs.
The first out was made on senior and No. 9 hitter Jenn Bulford’s sacrifice bunt, which moved Farr from first to third base.
The second out was made on Simmons’ sacrifice fly to right, which scored two runs after an error.
Sophomore Faith Jones hit a hard liner for the third out, but that was okay, because she had already made her mark by being hit by pitch and scoring in the inning.
Amid all that madness, RBI doubles from Hope Jones, Mokychic and senior Sarah Traver led to Farr’s three-run home run just over the left field wall that cleared the bases and scored sophomore Erin Dunn and Traver to make it 11-0.
“I’m so proud of her. She’s worked so hard, especially at hitting,” Krispin, a senior, said of the sophomore Farr. “She was in a little bit of a slump and she was working really hard at practice every single day, hitting what felt like at least 100 balls every single day. It was probably more than that. She deserved that.”
The highlights didn’t stop there, though, as Bulford threw out a runner at the plate on a force play in the third, and also snagged a liner before tossing to first to complete the double play that ended the game.
Krispin would also pick off another base runner at second base in the fourth, and Mokychic hit a triple that scored Farr and Faith Jones, essentially putting into effect the 10-run rule.
Hope Jones also had a multi-hit day, going 2 for 4 with two runs.
All nine batters scored a run for the Lady Tigers.
As a team, Tunkhannock was 13 for 23 (.565 batting average) with eight extra-base hits in a performance that the Tigers say they saw coming.
“The way we hit is just so explosive, and all the girls have been so dedicated to working on it,” Schultz said. “We don’t want our season to end. We want to keep going.”