Gene Twardzik/For The Recorder PBA's Sydney Szczepanik celebrates after striking out an Amsterdam Firefighters batter to end the Amsterdam Girls Softball Association Intermediate Division championship game Sunday at Shuttleworth Park.
Gene Twardzik/For The Recorder PBA's Toni May, left, slides in safely at home plate ahead of the tag from Amsterdam Firefighters' Ameeah Sidbury during the Amsterdam Girls Softball Association Intermediate Division championship game Sunday at Shuttleworth Park.
Gene Twardzik/For The Recorder PBA shortstop Kyrtsen Orsini, left, fields a throw as Amsterdam Firefighters' Keegan Hoefs (8) steals second base Sunday during the Amsterdam Girls Softball Association Intermediate Division championship game at Shuttleworth Park.
By MICHAEL KELLY
Each member of the PBA lineup contributed Sunday in a big way, as the squad finished off an undefeated season with a victory in the Amsterdam Girls Softball Association Intermediate Division championship game.
PBA topped the Amsterdam Firefighters, 14-7, at Shuttleworth Park to deliver the yellow-clad team the title.
"They're all a bunch of great girls. I can't complain at all," said PBA head coach Rob Szczepanik. "They all work hard and they're always eager to come play."
That commitment and excitement showed Sunday, as every PBA player either had an RBI or scored a run. Grace Clark provided the game's slugging, scorching an RBI triple into left-centerfield, while Rachel Bevins had a pair of singles to lead PBA.
Meanwhile, PBA pitchers Sydney Szczepanik and Jordyn Wozniak combined to hold the Firefighters' bats to only eight hits and struck out a dozen.
"They were throwing strikes -- nice, hard strikes," said Bevins, who caught all seven innings for PBA.
PBA jumped out to a big lead to start the contest. Playing as the away team, PBA had an eight-run cushion before the Firefighters broke through in the bottom of the fifth inning for five runs.
Pepper Cronk got the scoring started for PBA. The club's No. 2 hitter worked a one-out walk in the first inning, stole second base, moved to third on a fielder's choice and scored on a steal of home.
Then, the club got things going in the second inning. After three walks and a hit by pitch to start the inning, Bevins followed with an RBI single. Next, Molly Kowalczyk walked to force home a run, and Ashley Krohn finished off the inning with an RBI on a fielder's choice.
"Once the first person got a run (in the second inning), we started hitting it with the bats and we got a lot more runs," Sydney Szczepanik said.
After a scoreless third inning, Josie Cronk worked a one-out walk in the fourth and was driven home on Clark's blast to the outfield.
"Grace had the big hit," Rob Szczepanik said.
Bevins scored her team's lone run in the fifth inning after singling and stealing the remaining bases.
While the offense was cooking, the PBA defense kept the Firefighters off the scoreboard.
"We have great pitching, solid defense and we fielded the ball good," Wozniak said.
"Having a good strong pitcher and catcher, that's two of the most important things," Rob Szczepanik said.
While Sydney Szczepanik and Wozniak did their part in striking out a dozen batters, Bevins made a pair of nice plays behind the plate. The catcher threw out a runner to end the second inning, and followed it up the next inning with starting a double play after a tough catch right up against the backstop fence.
Her eye black smeared all over her face after catching seven innings in Sunday's heat, Bevins smiled when talking about the catch.
"I was surprised," she said. "I didn't think I had it."
Later, Firefighters catcher Gaby Maroto made a similar catch in the fourth inning.
The Firefighters showed spirit in the fifth inning, putting together a five-run rally on the strength of RBI hits from Maroto, Emily Schaufelberg and Ameeah Sidbury.
The club followed that inning with two runs in the sixth -- Kayli Hoefs and Mimi Sawitzki each had hits and scored -- but the Firefighters could not offer up any offense in the seventh inning, as Sydney Szczepanik struck out the side to end the game.
PBA finished off its scoring with a lone run in the seventh inning on an RBI single from Kyrsten Orsini, and five runs in the sixth. In the big sixth inning, Wozniak led off with a double, and the team collected six walks to help plate its five runs.
For PBA, Sydney Szczepanik finished with one hit; Pepper Cronk had two walks and scored twice; Orsini had her RBI single; Wozniak had her RBI double; Josie Cronk walked three times and scored three times; Clark walked and scored twice, in addition to her RBI triple; Star Pacillo walked twice, got hit by a pitch and scored twice; Toni May was hit by a pitch, walked and scored twice; Bevins had two singles, an RBI and scored twice; Kowalczyk had two walks and an RBI; and, Krohn had an RBI and a walk.
For the Firefighters, Sidbury had her RBI single; Kayli Hoefs had a single and a triple, plus scored a run; Mimi Sawitzki had two hits, an RBI and scored a run; Ella Sawitzki had a walk; Randi Urbanczyk had a single; Lexi Hazzard walked and scored a run; Angela Irizzary walked and scored a run; Keegan Hoefs walked twice and scored a run; Isabela Irizzary walked twice and scored a run; Schaufelberg had an RBI double and scored a run; Maroto walked and had an RBI single; and, Lauryn Siudy had a walk.
The Firefighters squad has been a force in the AGSA for a few years, and PBA's Sydney Szczepanik said her team had come into Sunday's contest expecting its opponent's best. After emerging with the win, she said her team was extra excited.
"Before, we thought we could never beat them, no matter what," said Sydney Szczepanik. "But, this year, we put it all together and we played our best."
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