WEST PITTSTON – Hope Jones took the first swings and threw the first pitches of the Wyoming Valley Conference softball season for Tunkhannock.
The assignment, against a defending Division 2 champion Wyoming Area team loaded with veterans, seemed like quite a challenge for a freshman to face.
Jones, however, showed that she was not a typical freshman, pitching a shutout and driving in the game’s only runs as the Tigers defeated the host Warriors 2-0 in bitter cold and wind.
“Syd Faux threw unbelievable for us last year,” said former assistant Bob Hegedty, who made his conference debut as Tunkhannock’s new head coach. “Fortunately, we got her some help so she doesn’t have to carry all of the load.
“Hope was lights out. We weren’t worried about her in this game. She’s been in this kind of game before in travel ball and she’s been well-coached.”
Jones pitched the Bob Horlacher Little League all-stars through district, section and state championships for two straight years.
“I had some nerves, but that’s nothing new,” Jones said. “You get pumped up with your team and you go from there.”
Jones gave up just six singles, four in the first three innings, while walking two and striking out five.
“I just try to stay calm,” Jones said. “You can’t get frustrated and be a good pitcher.
“Coach calls the pitches and I just try to go with what he wants.”
Tunkhannock’s defense supported Jones, particularly in the third inning when Wyoming Area loaded the bases with one out for pitcher and clean-up hitter Gwen Glatz.
Second baseman Jenn Bulford snagged a Glatz liner and threw to first base for an inning-ending double play.
Wyoming Area did not get two runners on again until the bottom of the seventh. With one out, leadoff hitter Bree Bednarski lofted a high flyball down the left-field line, but it hung up in the wind and Sydney Faux settled under it for a harmless second out.
Jones ended the game by fielding a grounder back to the mound.
“We had chances, but we didn’t capitalize,” Wyoming Area coach John McNeil said. “For us to become a good team, we have to capitalize when we have the opportunity.”
Jones made sure Tunkhannock did not waste its chances.
The Tigers kept the pressure on the Warriors by getting four of their eight hits to lead off innings.
Jones, the lead-off hitter in the lineup, got hits her first three times up.
Faux led off the third with a single and Sarah Traver led off the fifth with a double.
After Faux moved up on consecutive groundouts, Jones singled her home with two out in the third. She got another two-out RBI in the fifth to score Erin Dunn, who was running for Traver.
“It’s a great win for us,” Hegedty said. “The girls have been working hard and really working on what we went over.
“We’re not going to wow anybody with power and homers, but we have a lot of nice hitters and a lot of speed and that’s what we have to take advantage of.”
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