Prior to Thursday’s PIAA Class AA championship softball game Moniteau’s Kennedy DeMatteis had allowed a total of zero runs in more than a month. The last team to score on her was Philipsburg-Osceola in a tournament on April 30, a game the Lady Mounties won, 5-4.
Defending champion Holy Redeemer wasn’t intimidated by those numbers.
The defending champion Lady Royals threw a five-run first inning at DeMatteis and went on to post a 9-3 win to take their second PIAA championship trophy back home to Wilkes-Barre.
Holy Redeemer strung together three hits, worked DeMatteis for three walks and took advantage of two Moniteau errors to build the lead. The key hit in the inning was a single to left by Meghan Armstrong which was followed by a pair of unearned runs.
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“When you get down 5-0 like that it changes your offense,” said Moniteau coach Dan Beebe, whose team worked out at Philipsburg-Osceola on Wednesday and later posed with a group of Lady Mounties for a photo. P-O head coach Jim Gonder and assistant Jim Thal were in attendance Thursday along with several Lady Mounties, including Haylee Hayward and Maggie Peck, who were wearing Moniteau T-shirts.
“Those five runs threw us off a little bit. We had not been down 5-0 all year. But we had seven innings to overcome that.”
And they tried, chipping away for a run in the bottom of the first on an RBI double by Kristina DeMatteis, twin sister of Kennedy.
But Holy Redeemer answered with a run in the top of the third on a bases-loaded walk to Samantha Rejza.
After Moniteau cut the lead to 7-3 with solo runs in the third and fifth the Lady Royals tacked on two insurance runs in the sixth on a throwing error and a fielder’s choice by Kristen Coffay.
“We wanted to keep the pressure on them the whole game,” said Redeemer coach Jerome Paulukonis. “We told the girls to be disciplined at the plate against their pitcher (DeMatteis). We didn’t want them swinging at the first strike, to make her come down the middle and give them something to hit.
“And being down by five runs deflates the other team. But as a coach I wanted us to keep pressing even when we were ahead.”
The game started late thanks to a 2 1/2-hour rain delay which Beebe thought might have affected his team.
“Sitting around like that tends to play with your mind,” he said. “I think it gave the girls time to think about where they were.”
Holy Redeemer wasn’t worried. The Lady Royals knew the drill.
“This was our goal from the beginning of the year but to repeat as champions is more difficult than to win the first time. Last year not many people knew about us and what we had. This year everyone did and our kids had to up their game.”