6/21/2005

High school all-star softball game
One last parade of K’s for Nanticoke ace
By jerzar@leader.net

Jess Brenner has spent most of her four years at Greater Nanticoke Area in a comfort zone on the mound.

Even a patched-together all-star team behind her couldn’t shake that confidence Monday night.

Brenner struck out eight in five innings, helping the East to a 7-0 victory over the West in the 26th annual Dallas Kiwanis Club Senior Girls All-Star Softball Game.

“I play travel (league) and play just about every day,” said Brenner, who recorded more than 700-career strikeouts and will play at Kutztown University next season. “I felt really, really comfortable going out there. I felt like I knew what I had to do and I did it.”

Brenner was named the East’s MVP, but had plenty of competition for the honor. Coughlin’s Kristen Watlock finished 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored. Hazleton Area’s Allison Grohol was 2-for-4 with a triple and three runs scored. And Pittston Area’s Michelle Kotula was 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI.

The same couldn’t be said for the West. Wyoming Valley West’s Kristen Van Tuyle won her team’s MVP honors by collecting two of the West’s five hits.

“The top of the order was huge,” East coach Diane Breese said of Coughlin. “We had Watlock, Grohol, (Lindsay) Smith, Kotula, Brenner. That’s a nice start.”

Breese and West coach Joyce Tinner of Dallas agreed the East had a talent advantage, something that happens occasionally when all-star squads are divided geographically.

“It was the luck of the draw of the year,” Breese said, “but it was a good time.”

Brenner left the game with a 5-0 lead thanks in part to her pitching, as she struck out three consecutive batters in the second with the bases loaded. Pittston Area’s Mallory Gable and Bishop Hafey’s Jess Herring each struck out two West players in relief, giving East pitchers 12 total strikeouts.

The East took a 3-0 lead in the first after Watlock and Kotula each doubled and scored on an error on Smith’s grounder. Smith scored on a single by Hazleton Area’s Jamie Hoyt. Kotula added an RBI double in the third and an RBI groundout in the fifth for the 5-0 advantage.

A throwing error in the seventh scored Watlock and Grohol with the East’s final two runs.

“It’s a good game for the girls to come out and play one last time and get together,” Tinner said.

Dallas’ Lauren Collini and Cassie Backes and Wyoming Area’s Amy Goldsworthy each had a hit for the West. Collini pitched all nine innings, but six errors led to five unearned runs.

“I enjoyed playing with the girls who once were our competition,” Brenner said. “And I still got to play against the Dallas girls and beat them finally.”



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