NTL SOFTBALL: ATHENS BLANKS NP-L, 10-0 — CLINCHES SHARE OF LARGE SCHOOL DIVISION TITLE (19 PHOTOS) (2019-05-17)

Valley Sports Report
ATHENS — The first goal for the Lady Wildcats this season was to hang the program’s first NTL softball title banner in the gymnasium. Mission accomplished.

Senior Mimi Martin and junior Haley Barry powered the offense, and junior Megan Bennett tossed five strong innings to lead Athens to a 10-0 five-inning win over North Penn-Liberty here Thursday afternoon to clinch a share of the Large School Division title.

The Lady Wildcats, now 13-3 overall and 13-2 in NTL play, can win the division outright if Wellsboro knocks off Wyalusing Friday afternoon.

I was in our gym watching a girls basketball game this winter,” said Athens coach Mickey Farrell. “I had just been hired as head coach and one the parents pointed out to me there are no banners or plaques for softball hanging in the gymnasium, and said we needed to do something about it.

“It was one of the very first things I talked about at one of my very first meetings with the team,” noted Farrell.

The turning point of the season, said Farrell, was the third game of the season — a 10-4 loss at NEB.

“These girls have been on a mission ever since our bad loss  to Northeast Bradford, it kind of woke us up,” said Farrell.  “When kids are committed to something, good things happen.

“I sound like a broken record, but work ethic on this team is very impressive,” he noted. “Emma Adams, Leah Reid, and Mimi Martin are my leaders, and they take the job very seriously.

“They keep everyone focused and on point, but we're not done,” added Farrell. “Athens has never won a district title … and these girls know we have to bring it every pitch of every inning . Our team motto is: let’s make history!”

Athens took command early with three runs in the home half of the first inning.

Senior Emma Adams, Athens’ all-time hit leader, added to her school record with a lead-off single, and moved to second when she beat a throw there on a grounder off the bat of Bennett.

Moments later, Adams wasn’t as lucky, getting erased at third base on a fielder’s choice off the bat of sophomore Harley Sullivan.

Sophomore Emma Repsher was hit with the next pitch to load the bases, but NP-L ace Savannah Doney nearly escaped the jam. After a strikeout, Doney got ahead in the count on junior Haley Barry, but Barry lined a 1-2 pitch into left-center field for a two-run single for the game’s first runs.

Senior Leah Reid stroked an RBI single on the next pitch to make it 3-0.

Senior Mimi Martin led off the third inning with a solo home run, and Bennett capped the rally with a two-out, two-run single to push the lead to 6-0.

Barry and sophomore Audrey Hatch belted RBI doubles in the fourth inning to extend the Athens advantage to 8-0.

Adams led off the fifth inning with a double, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Sullivan to make it 9-0. Repsher walked and scored her third run of the game moments later on a ringing RBI triple by Martin to invoke the 10-run “mercy rule.”

Martin homered and tripled, scored one run, and had two RBI, and Barry doubled and singled, scored one run, and had three RBI to lead Athens at the plate, while Adams doubled and singled, and scored one run, and Hatch doubled, scored one run, and drove in one run.

Reid and Bennett each singled, scored one run, and drove in one run in the win, while Repsher scored three runs, and Sullivan scored one run and drove in one run.

Bennett allowed just a third-inning single, while striking out seven and walking two in five innings to record the win.

The game marked the final home game for four Athens seniors — Adams, Martin, Reid, and Hayleigh Macik.

Athens returns to action Saturday at the Central Columbia.

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IN PHOTO 1: Athens senior Emma Adams. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.