High School Sports

High school softball: Holy Redeemer beats Deer Lakes to capture PIAA Class AA title

When Jerry Paulukonis gathered his Holy Redeemer team together in the fall, what he saw impressed him.

“I told my one assistant I thought this team could do something special,” he said.

It was a self-fulfilling prophecy since the Royals won the school’s first PIAA championship. Deer Lakes helped, committing five errors in a 10-5 loss in the Class AA title game at Penn State’s Beard Field.

“Without those errors sits a different ball game,” said Deer Lakes pitcher Tiffany Edwards.

It’s hard to argue that point, especially since the Lancers committed a pair of errors in a five-run fourth inning that allowed them to wipe out a 5-4 deficit and take a 9-4 lead.

The Royals sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth thanks to doubles by Morgan Bienkowski and Olivia Mennig and singles by Randi Kuhar and Kristan Coffay plus the errors.

“You can’t give a team like that extra outs,” said coach Craig Taliani, “especially when they hit the ball that well. This as an anomaly for us because we played solid defense all through the playoff season.”

Deer Lakes opened the scoring in the first inning on an RBI single by Edwards, but Holy Redeemer topped that with two in the second on an error, a single to left by Biekknowski and Kaya Swanek’s double off the fence in left..

Deer Lakes came up with a four-run rally in the second after there were two outs. Singles by Sarah Blinn and Katie Gozzard, a walk and a two-run triple by Edwards put the Lancers up 5-2, but Holy Redeemer answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning on an error and a single by Bienkowski.

“No one believed we could do this,” Paulukonis said. “But our slogan is ‘15 strong.’ Right now, this feels unreal. It will take a while to settle in. We didn’t know a lot about them except that their two-through -five hitters were really strong.

“We started to play small ball in the fourth. We noticed that because they didn’t bunt real well they must not practice much against it so we decided to try that.”

“They’re a good team,” said Edwards. “Our style is similar to theirs. We’re both offensive machines and against a team like that you can’t make mistakes.”

Edwards gave up eight hits and nine runs while walking three and striking out one in three and a third innings. Coffay went the edistance allowing seven hits, three walks and striking out three.