Burrell softball upends unbeaten Freeport
Burrell softball went to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for some preseason scrimmages and practices, but the trip occurred a week before the WPIAL’s official start date. That meant the team could not play any games that counted.
After an impressive win Tuesday, the Bucs look plenty ready to play meaningful games.
Brittany Dunn homered, doubled and picked up a save as Burrell clipped previously undefeated Freeport, 5-4, in the Section 3-AA opener at wind-chilled Freeport Community Park.
While the game-time temperature differed greatly from Myrtle Beach two weeks ago — layer-up 30s instead of comfortable 70s — Burrell showed some of the progress it made on its spring-training excursion.
“We really came together as a team down there,” Dunn said of the Myrtle Beach trip. “We have been backing each other up. Even though we have a smaller section, we know there are a lot of good teams to play against.”
Burrell (2-0, 1-0) might just be one of those “pretty good teams,” too. The Bucs have five new starters but have shown the same propensity to string hits together as last year’s team that made the quarterfinals.
Burrell had only one game under its belt coming into Tuesday, but looked sharp at the plate against Freeport standout pitcher Kristie Radvan, who struck out seven but took her first loss of the season.
“The girls bonded down there (at Myrtle Beach), but we’re still looking for (the right lineup),” Burrell coach Brian Eshbaugh said. “We continue to hit the ball pretty well. We had four or five hits in a row against Kiski Area. We’re very confident in our hitters.”
Freeport (4-1, 0-1) relied on a strong defense behind Radvan. But the Yellowjackets, despite taking a 2-1 lead in the first and out-hitting Burrell, 11-9, couldn’t rally from a 5-2 deficit in the sixth.
Dunn led off the fourth with a towering shot toward a cloudless sky. The hit had enough carry to clear the center field fence and tie it 2-2. Then, Lea Coffman walked, stole second and scored before Kelly Nitowski singled down the first-base line for a 3-2 Bucs’ lead.
The home run caught Dunn slightly off guard. She mouthed “Seriously?” to teammates as she came home.
“I thought it rolled under the fence,” Dunn said. “But they waved me around. I wasn’t expecting (a home run). Maybe the wind helped it.”
It was 5-2 in the sixth after Cara Fiore and Lexi Uzelac contributed back-to-back, two-out doubles.
Freeport made a late comeback — and had some help. Radvan hit her third homer of the season deep to left to open the home-half of the sixth to make it 5-3, and the Yellowjackets loaded the bases. But Bucs’ starter Kasey Wolford got Savannah Claypool to fly out to end the rally.
A key defensive play happened when catcher Alaina York threw out a baserunner on a steal attempt for the second out of the inning.
“We hit the ball right at them all day,” Freeport coach Sam Ross said. “Sometimes the ball finds green. Today it found the glove.”
In the seventh, with Dunn in the circle, Crytzer singled and went to second on an error. A wild pitch allowed her to move to third, and she scored when York overthrew third on a chase-back attempt and suddenly it was 5-4.
Dunn struck out the final batter to end it.
“We know every time we play Burrell it will be a battle and you better bring it,” Ross said. “Just like us, they come to play.”
Like Burrell, Freeport wants to be one of the teams that obstruct defending WPIAL champion Deer Lakes at the top of the section.
The Yellowjackets, despite a light roster, also have offensive pop. They led 2-1 after Crytzer singled and Radvan hit a check-swing double to set the table for Allison DeJidas, who delivered a two-run double.
Crytzer went 3 for 4. Kristen Karcher had two hits, including a double.
Dunn gave Burrell a 1-0 lead with a run-scoring double in the first.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor for the Valley News Dispatch edition of the Tribune-Review. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.