May 25—S. ABINGTON TWP. — Consider it time well spent.
Mired in a 2-for-17 slump her last six games, Abington Heights junior Lindsey Tasker stayed long after Tuesday's practice to work on her swing.
The results? The second baseman's slide ended in dramatic fashion.
Tasker went deep twice, part of a four-homer barrage, and the second-seeded Lady Comets advanced to their first District 2 title game since 2019, knocking off No. 3 West Scranton, 7-1, in Wednesday's District 2 Class 5A semifinal.
"We were here an extra hour just throwing her pitches because she's that kind of kid," Abington Heights coach John Kelly said. "She puts a lot into it.
"She has the ability but she's been struggling the last few games. Some kids just think they have the ability and they don't need to work. She's a perfectionist. We took a lot of extra batting practice."
Abington Heights needed Tasker's bat, especially after West Scranton's Isabella Summa smashed the game's first pitch to right center for a home run.
"To start the game with a home run, I really thought we were on our way because the kids put the ball in play today," West Scranton coach E.J. Dougher said. "But we fell a little short."
That's because Abington Heights pitcher Lauren Stalica quickly settled in after Summa's shot, and she and her teammates provided offensive support. Stalica, Tasker and Ava Stafursky all pounded two-run homers.
"It's tough to give up a home run the first pitch of the game, but then it was important for me to come back and get the next three outs so I put that behind me and I'm going forward," said Stalica, who yielded five hits, two to Summa, who also doubled.
Tasker, whose average dipped 90 points over the slump, didn't quite put a charge into Mia Butka's 1-1 pitch to lead off the home half of the first, but with plenty of help from the wind, it carried far enough to tie the score.
"I am happy the wind was on my side," Tasker said. "I was talking to the umpire, saying it was going to be a home run derby because the wind was blowing out.
"I'm thinking our team is good enough to come back from that, and we did. I was not expecting the outcome, but I'm very proud of us."
That homer, her first of the season, gave the Lady Comets (17-5) an important psychological boost.
"Thanks, Linds. Really needed that one," Stalica said. "My team always comes through for me when we need it the most."
West (16-6) had a chance to reclaim the lead after two-out singles from Mia Tallo and Madison May put runners on the corners, but Julia Farkley's line drive was speared by first baseman Lauryn Notari, and the victors wasted little time jumping ahead.
Marley Sarafinko dunked a leadoff single into center, and Stalica chased an 0-2 pitch but still rifled it over the left-field fence.
"Man, she hit a ball that was five feet outside and took it for a home run," Dougher said. "Tasker was a tough out today and Stalica pitched fantastic.
"It's a wind tunnel up here. When the ball gets up in the air it gets out of here. But take nothing away from Abington. They're a fantastic team. John Kelly is a friend of mine and I wish them luck in the district championship game."
Abington Heights will play the winner of today's Shilellamy at Pittston Area game, but the Lady Comets still had plenty of work to do before sealing their title-game berth.
Isabelle Wilmont started another quick rally when she grounded a one-out single between third and short, and Tasker left no doubt with her second homer, a two-run laser to dead center.
"I've had a grand slam before, but that was crazy," Tasker said. "And this is nice because it's a big game. It's like locking it in."
Stafursky gave the winners a chance to take a deep breath in the sixth, following Riley Knot's single with a two-run homer to cap the victory.
"They're an amazing team," Stafursky said of West. "They can come back from anything. We had to get ahead early and I'm glad we did.
"It's nice to go back to the district championship as a senior."
West Scranton's been in that final the last two seasons, but the Lady Comets denied Butka, Summa and their teammates a third straight trip.
"Going back to all my years here at West, I just love these kids," Dougher said. "We won a district championship, a league championship, final four in the state, and you have to look back at those great memories the last few years."
Abington Heights 7, West Scranton 1
West Scranton 100 000 0 — 1
Abington Heights 100 222 x — 7
WP: Lauren Stalica 7IP, 5H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 5SO
LP: Mia Butka 6IP, 8H, 7R, 7ER, 0BB, 5SO
2B: Bryn Stiles (AH), Isabella Summa (WS).
HR: Isabella Summa (WS), Lindsey Tasker (AH) 2, Lauren Stalica (AH), Ava Stafursky (AH).
Records: WS 15-6, AH 16-6
Elk Lake and Holy Cross will meet in the District 2 championship game for the third straight season, top-seeded Elk Lake edging No. 5 Dunmore, 6-4, and No. 2 Holy Cross holding off No. 6 Lakeland, 11-8, in their semifinals.
Holy Cross 11, Lakeland 8
At Holy Cross, center fielder Katie Wywoda tracked down Olivia Cunningham's bases-loaded drive to right center in the sixth inning, helping Holy Cross preserve its victory.
Lakeland had seven hits in the five-run second, Madalyn Sheppard striking the key blow, a two-run single.
Holy Cross answered with its own five spot in the fourth. Wywoda tripled in a run and Ava Schmidt and Mia Galella each had stroking RBI singles.
Galella also homered and finished with four RBIs to help the victors into Tuesday's final.
Losing pitcher Joan Clauss-Walton notched her 300th strikeout in the second inning.
Holy Cross 11, Lakeland 8
Lakeland 050 020 1 — 8
Holy Cross 212 510 x — 11
WP: Ava Schmidt 4 2/3IP, 5H, 2R, 0ER, 2BB, 6SO
LP: Joan Clauss-Walton 6IP, 11H, 11R, 4ER, 2BB, 8SO
2B: Micayla Arzie (LAK), Joan Clauss-Walton (LAK), Myha Kilmer (LAK) 2, Mia Scalese (HC).
3B: Katie Wywoda (HC).
HR: Mia Galella (HC).
Records: LAK 8-12, HC 14-8
Elk Lake 6, Dunmore 4
Elk Lake scored four runs in the fifth inning and held off Dunmore in a Class 2A semifinal.
Mati Lord has two hits, scored two runs and drove in a run to lead the Lady Warriors (18-2).
Leah Traver had a double and an RBI, and Cheyenne Horn added a double for Elk Lake.
Tristan Canavan had a home run and Bella Pasko had a double for Dunmore.
Hazleton Area will host Williamsport in Tuesday's District 2-4 subregional final.
Top seed Hazleton Area needed just five innings to dispatched Wyoming Valley West, 16-4, while Williamsport also posted a 1-run rule victory, beating Wilkes-Barre Area, 11-1.
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