SPRING VALLEY — The Hall Lady Devils are on a mission — they want to win one for Coach K.
Hall coach Pete Kasperski will be retiring from teaching and coaching at the end of the school year and the Lady Devils would like to send him out with a regional championship. They took their first step Wednesday with an 8-2 win over rival Princeton.
Sophomore pitcher Adrianna Pikula picked up the complete-game victory, striking out nine while allowing just one hit. She helped her own cause with a pair of RBI hits as did freshman Rene Barroso to send the Lady Devils into Saturday’s championship game vs. top-seeded Seneca.
“Coach K has heard us say we want to win this all for him, and he tells us that we need to work at it, and do it for ourselves. Make ourselves proud. But really, the whole team wants to do it for coach K,” Hall senior Deidra Whightsil said. “He’s one of the best coaches out there and he pushes us, and that’s what we need.”
The last time the Lady Devils played for a regional championship was 2009 and that too came against Seneca.
“For me being my last year and the three seniors, it’s kind of nice. It’s sweet,” Kasperski said.
Princeton got a RBI single from Abby Jaques in the first inning and scored on a wild pitch in the top of the second to take a 2-0 lead.
The Lady Devils (11-10) left the bases loaded in the first inning, but regained momentum in the second with some help from Princeton.
PHS’ Madison Menzel struck out Hunter Galassi trying to pitch herself out of a one-out, two-on jam after a pair of walks. But an errant pick-off to throw third base by Jaques, the catcher, allowed Barroso to score from third. When the ball skipped past left fielder Devi Truesdon, Kylie Whightsil also scored from second.
“We had them a little bit on the ropes there. Get the strikeout and the throwing error makes a difference,” PHS coach Bob James said. “What ailed us from the beginning of the season got us today, poor defense. ... We didn’t play very good defensively to keep us in it.”
The Lady Devils pushed another run across in the third when Deidra Whightsil scored on a wild pitch to give Hall its first lead at 3-2.
Barroso tripled home a run and scored on a hit by Pikula in the fifth to make it 5-2. PHS reliever Alisa Holmbeck limited the damage to one after the bases had been loaded by walks, popping up Barroso to third and striking out Kylie Whightsil.
Hall kept the merry-go-round going with three more runs in the sixth. Deidra Whightsil reached on an error and moved to third on a hit by Rebecca Herrmann. Ellie Herrman plated Whightsil with a ground out to short. Abbey Azarski reached on a walk before Barroso and Pikula stroked consecutive RBI hits again to make it 8-2.
“Once we scored the two runs, I could see the girls calm down a little bit. We started doing a better job at the plate and Pikula started throwing the ball a little harder,” Kasperski said. “Both teams were nervous at the beginning of the game. We’re going to have to play a lot better early because Seneca won’t make any mistakes.”
Menzel took the loss, charged with three runs before exiting with one out in the third after walking eight. Holmbeck pitched the final 3.2 innings, surrendering five runs.
Deidra Whightsil said the Lady Devils will give it their best shot Saturday.
“The key for us to win would have to be to keep our confidence up and keep reminding ourselves that if we make an error it isn’t the end of the world. We’re too hard on ourselves. But we just have to keep our spirits up because we have the talent to stick with and beat any team around here.
The Tigresses exit at 8-21, finishing what James called a disappointing season.
“Maybe next season will be better,” he said, losing only senior Mollie Bates from his regional roster.
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