Times Leader Softball All-Star Team
Jess Higgins - Senior, pitcher
Higgins was the top pitcher for the Trojans,
who claimed the District 2 Class 2A title and advanced to the PIAA
Championships, where they fell to eventual state champion Loyalsock
in the second round. Higgins posted an 11-4 record in the regular
season with a 1.56 ERA, notching 102 strikeouts and walking just 16
in 103 innings.
Jen Harnischfeger - Sophomore, infielder
The sparkplug, leadoff hitter for the Trojans
was a nightmare on the basepaths for opponents. She always seemed
to be on base and get things started for Nanticoke. Harnischfeger
hit .533 in the regular season for the Trojans, while posting a .632
on base percentage
Trojans fail to get past Loyalsock
If Nanticoke Area has a dejavu experience next season,
it would ease the pain of Fridays 8-3 loss to Loyalsock in the
PIAA Class 2A softball quarterfinals.
The Trojans got a gutsy performance from standout
pitcher Jess Higgins after she was hit in the shin with a line drive
in the first inning. She stayed in and pitched the rest of the game
with a noticeable limp.
In 2002, Nanticoke was in a similar situation
when star pitcher Jess Brenner got injured in the quarterfinals of
the state tournament and wound up losing the game to eventual state
champion Kutztown. The next year, Nanticoke earned the gold medal
Loyalsock, which ran its unbeaten record to
26-0 and has a good shot of claiming a state gold, will face Brandywine
Heights in Mondays semifinals. Brandywine beat St. Pius 6-0
on Thursday. Nanticoke, which ended its season at 16-5, only graduated
two seniors Friday night with Higgins and Shannon Kowalski.
I think this group is special and the
kids coming up are going to help next year too, Trojans Coach
Gary Williams said. But anything can happen.
The Lancers got off to a quick start scoring
three times in the bottom of the first inning all after Higgins was
hurt due to a blast off the bat of power-hitting pitcher Porshia Wilson.
Higgins immediately dropped to the ground and
was looked at but stayed in the game. Wilson was thrown out at first
by Nanticoke third baseman Alicia Luczak, but the next three Loyalsock
hitters got hits. The big hit was a two-run double by second baseman
I couldnt believe she even got
up after that, Loyalsock coach Scott Smith said. That
was a shot and Ill tell you what, that pitcher was just unbelievable.
To come up after a shot like that. You really have to give it up to
that girl for going out there because that really was impressive.
The Trojans got a run back in the top of the
fifth as Jen Harnischfeger hit a run-scoring single.
But the Lancers answered back scoring four
more in the bottom of the frame on four RBI singles weakly hit to
left field. Three of the four were hit consecutively as Loyalsock
opened a 7-1 lead.
Nanticoke is a good team and we knew
they had good hitting coming into this game, Smith added. We
wanted to get up on them early and got three early runs right off
the bat, but they kept battling back. Three runs isnt enough
against a good team. You need to keep trying to get more because a
good team is going to keep battling back.
Nanticoke cut the lead to 7-3, scoring two
times on four hits in the sixth, as Amanda Cardone doubled in Kowalski
and Katie Brown singled in Cardone.
Entering the game, Nanticokes main concern
was Wilson, a 6-foot-3 hard-throwing right-hander.
Even though she gave up just two hits before
the sixth, the hitters did a good job of making contact as they only
struck out five times.
I was proud of our kids, Williams
said. We put the ball in play and didnt strike out much.
Thats what we wanted to do, but sometimes game plans dont
always work. But Im proud of them, they never quit.
Cardone was Nanticokes top hitter going
2-for-3 with a run and RBI.
Wilson, Donovan, Kerri Datres and Alexa Maddy
had two hits apiece for the Lancers.
PIAA Class 2A Quarterfinals
Nanticoke 000 012 0 3
Loyalsock 300 041 x 8
WP Porshia Wilson, 7IP, 6H, 3R, 2ER, 1BB,
5K; LP Jess Higgins, 6IP, 11H, 8R, 8ER, 1BB, 1K; 2B NAN,
Amanda Cardone; LOY, Kim Donovan. 3B LOY, Raychelle Kuhns. Top
hitters NAN, Cardone 2-3; Jen Harnischfeger, Shannon Kowalski,
Katie Brown, Alicia Luczak all had singles. LOY, Kerri Datres 2-3,
Porshia Wilson 2-3, Alexa Maddy 2-3, Kim Donovan 2-3.
WVC coaches select all-stars
The Times Leader Staff - Edited by GNA Webdesign
The Wyoming Valley Conference softball coaches recently
selected their all-stars for the 2008 season.
Earning the Most Valuable Player award were
Dallas Aly Evans (Division I West), Northwests Michelle
Cragle (Division II) and the Nanticoke tandem of Jess Higgins and
Jen Harnischfeger, who were selected co-MVP in Division I East.
In addition to Higgins, a pitcher and Harnischfeger, a shortstop,
those selected to the Division I East squad were: catchers, Amanda
Honorable mentions: Sarah Bertoni and Shannon Kowalski
Trojans march on
By Kaylee Ziolkowski - Citizens' Voice
Nanticoke Area catcher Amanda Cardone and Pen Argyls Anne Knorr
wait for the call from the home plate umpire during their game in
the first round of the PIAA Class AA softball championships
During the regular season, Nanticoke Areas position players
didnt get the recognition they deserve as most of the spotlight
fell on the senior pitcher, Jess Higgins.
But in teams first state tournament game
against Pen Argyl, all eyes were on first-year catcher, Amanda Cardone.
Cardone, who made the transition from shortstop to fill the catchers
slot this year, connected for a bases loaded double in the bottom
of the fifth to lift Nanticoke Area to a 3-0 win over the Green Knights
in the first round of the PIAA Class AA Championships.
As soon as I stepped up to the plate I knew I was going to hit
it, Cardone said. It was right over the plate and a little
high and I pulled it.
Morgan Thomas lead off the inning with a single to right field and
advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Sara Bertoni then reached
base on a walk and Higgins followed with a single up the middle, but
the runner was held at third. Shannon Kowalski followed with a hard
one-hopper to second base and Thomas was forced out at home. Cardone
then stepped in with two outs and launched a 0-1 change-up over the
head of the left fielder to score Bertoni, Higgins and Kowalski.
Cardone assisted by Thomas, also showcased a defensive stronghold,
highlighted by a play-at-the-plate in the top of the second inning.
With runners on first and second, Pen Argyl leadoff hitter, Sam Young
lined a ball up the middle. Thomas threw a one-hopper from deep center,
Cardone blocked the plate and applied the tag to Pen Argyls
That play was really a big momentum swinger for us, Cardone
said. I think if we missed that then we would have gotten down
on ourselves and it would have made the fight much harder.
Higgins tossed another gem with seven strikeouts and scattering four
hits. She also helped her own cause at the plate going 2-for-3.
Higgins is turning into a really tough pitcher, Nanticoke
Area head coach Gary Williams said. We wanted to keep the ball
on the outside part of the plate so they couldnt pull anything
and she did a great job.
Eight out of nine Trojans reached base safely in the contest and threatened
runs almost every inning. They stranded seven runners in the game,
five of which were in scoring position.
On the other hand, the Green Knights failed to capitalize on runners
in scoring position, stranding eight runners in the game. Their biggest
threat came in the top of the sixth when two Nanticoke Area errors
and another base-hit from Knorr loaded the bases for Pen Argyl. But
Higgins kept her composure and ended the inning with a strikeout.
Were going to make mistakes because I dont think
a perfect game is our style, Williams said. But fighting
through those mistakes is a mark of a good team. Confidence will have
to be key for these girls.
The Trojans will now face undefeated District 4 champion Loyalsock,
a 2-1 winner over Pequea Valley, on Thursday at a site and time to
NANTICOKE AREA 000 030 X 3
PEN ARGYL 000 000 0 0
WP: Jess Higgins 7IP 4H 0R 0ER 1BB 7SO
LP: Deliala Schriner 6IP 7H 3R 3ER 3BB 4SO
Confident GNA prevails
Cardone stars with defense, 3-run hit
It always seems to happen in baseball or softball
that a player makes a big defensive play then gets a big hit.
Someone must have told Nanticoke Area catcher Amanda Cardone thats
how things are supposed to work out.
The junior made a key tag on a runner at the plate in the second inning,
then accounted for all of her teams runs by smacking a three-run
double in the fifth, as Nanticoke defeated Pen Argyl 3-0 on Monday
at Wilkes Universitys Ralston Complex in the first round of
the PIAA Class 2A tournament.
The Trojans (16-4) advance to Thursdays quarterfinals against
Loyalsock at a place and time to be announced. The undefeated Lancers
(25-0) defeated Pequea Valley 2-1 on Monday to advance.
I just think we can make it all the way, Cardone said.
Were confident and all you need is confidence.
Said Nanticoke Coach Gary Williams on his catchers bold statement:
Thats great. I want her to feel that way. They are down
to the last eight teams in the state and I think believing you can
win it all is as important as your skills.
Cardone is allowed to talk the talk because she walked the walk on
With no score in the top of the second inning and the Green Knights
(18-7) threatening with runners on first and second and two outs,
Sam Young banged a base hit to center field. Anne Knorr was waved
around and the throw from Trojans center fielder Morgan Thomas was
on the right side of the plate.
But Cardone fielded the throw, reached around and tagged Knorr in
time for the out to keep the Knights off the board.
I just saw her coming and was like, OK, I gotta get this
out or Im gonna get punched in the face or something,
Cardone said. So I just got it and tried my best and
guarded the plate.
If they would have got that, we probably would have got a little
down on ourselves, but I knew we would have picked ourselves up.
Three innings later, this time with Nanticoke threatening with two
outs and the bases loaded, it was Cardone who picked up the team by
producing at the plate.
After hitting the ball hard off Pen Argyl pitcher Deleila Schriner
two times before but just getting a single, she got a pitch to her
liking over the outside part of the plate and pulled it to left field
over the fielders head to score all three runners.
As soon as I got up there, I knew I was going to hit em
in, she said. Im confident, definitely. I knew she
was slow and where she was pitching, so I knew where it was going
to go. I just had to hit it.
While Cardone was the biggest star of the game for the Trojans, she
wasnt the only one.
Jess Higgins threw another solid game from the circle, fanning seven
and allowing just four hits and a walk.
The Trojans scouted Pen Argyl and wanted to keep their pitches away
from the hitters. Higgins hit the outside part of the plate perfectly
and gave up only four singles, three by Knorr, the designated player.
Jess is a great pitcher. She pitched one of the best games I
caught for her all year, Cardone added. She pitched very
hard, very accurate. She threw like she wanted it.
The only other time Pen Argyl put pressure on the Trojans was in the
top of the sixth as a pair of Nanticoke errors and a single by Knorr
loaded the bases. But Higgins fanned pinch-hitter Jaclyn Parsons to
end the inning.
It was the second time in two games that the
defense almost cost the Trojans a lead, but Williams knows thats
not such a bad thing.
What I told them is that we made a few
mistakes offensively and defensively, but they are starting to show
the marks of a good team that can fight through their mistakes,
he said. Thats the mark of a good team I guess to fight
through those mistakes.
PIAA Class 2A First Round
Pen Argyl 000 000 0 0
Nanticoke 000 030 x 3
WP Jess Higgins, 7IP, 4H, 0R, 0ER, 1B, 7K;
LP Deleila Schriner, 6IP, 8H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 4K; 2B NAN,
Amanda Cardone. Top hitters PA, Anne Knorr 3-3. NAN, Jess Higgins
2-3; Amanda Cardone 2-3, 3RBI; Jen Harnischfeger, Katie Brown, Clarissa
Tarnowski, Morgan Thomas hit each.
What: Class AA first round
Who: Nanticoke Area (15-4) vs. Penn Argyl (18-6)
When: 5 tonight, Monday, June 2, 2008
Where: Wilkes Ralston Complex
At stake: Winner advances to Thursdays
quarterfinals to play Loyalsock/Pequea Valley winner
Scouting Nanticoke Area: The Trojans will rely on
the leadership of senior hurler, Jess Higgins. Shes 12-4 with
111 strikeouts and 19 walks in 110 innings. This is Higgins
first appearance in a state playoffs, but during her last two outings,
she held a strong command of location and only surrendered one run
Leadoff hitter, sophomore shortstop Jen Harnischfeger
is arguably the strongest bat in the line-up. Shes batting over
.500 and is followed by freshman second baseman Sara Bertoni, who
delivered a crushing blow to Carbondale in the District 2 title game.
Higgins (.375) follows in the three-spot followed by power hitters
Shannon Kowalski and Amanda Cardone (.346).
Nanticoke Area head coach, Gary Williams enjoyed
three strong seasons (2002-2004) in the state playoffs winning Class
AA state gold in 2003.
Scouting Penn Argyl: State playoffs are new
territory for Penn Argyl coach Bill Schankel and his squad. The young
team knocked off Northwestern Lehigh in the District 11 final.
The Green Knights biggest threat is leadoff
hitter and third baseman Sam Young. She had three hits in the district
final and is batting .370 with three home runs. First baseman Jess
Simpson poses a power threat with seven doubles and three home runs.
Freshman pitcher Deleila Schriner is 10-2 with
a 2.30 ERA. She pitched a three-hit shutout in the district final.
Higgins pitches Trojans to title
BY KAYLEE ZIOLKOWSKI
Nanticoke Area senior hurler Jess Higgins has been
chasing a district title ever since her freshman year. She watched
as so many opportunities slipped through her fingers during her career,
but with a little help from freshman teammate Sara Bertoni, Nanticoke
Area finally reigned supreme in District 2.
Higgins threw a complete game three-hitter
with nine strikeouts to lead the Trojans to a 2-1 win over Carbondale
to win the District 2 Class AA championship Wednesday at Mid Valley
I tried to keep a clear mind and focus on every pitch
to every batter, Higgins said. Its the greatest
feeling in the world to finally win. But were definitely not
done until we bring it all home.
Early on it seemed that the Trojans were in for a tough game as Carbondale
pitcher, Makenzie Lynn, rang up nine of the first 15 batters with
a seemingly unbeatable riser.
I knew it was going to be a pitchers duel, Nanticoke
Area head coach Gary Williams said. In the beginning we couldnt
lay off the rise she was throwing. It was breaking at just the right
But fortunately for the Trojans, Lynn lost some control of her power
pitch toward the end of the fourth inning and was forced to bring
it into the strike zone. Alicia Luczak immediately jumped on the first
pitch in the top of the fifth and connected for Nanticokes first
hit of the game. Luczak then gave way to pinch runner Megan McHugh,
who advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Morgan Thomas. After
a quick pop-out to the shortstop, Bertoni stepped to the plate and
launched a 2-2 pitch into center field to easily score McHugh from
I definitely feel a lot of pressure being a freshman and batting
in the second spot, Bertoni said. I was just going to
the plate to make contact and when I saw the ball in the air my heart
The Trojans tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth
when Shannon Kowalski led off the inning with a triple and eventually
scored on a sacrifice-fly from Amanda Cardone.
The Chargers, however, refused to go down without a fight as Katie
and Makenzie Lynn registered back-to-back singles to score Samantha
Jordan, who reached on an error. Higgins was able to fight her way
threw several sticky situations as the Chargers stranded six runners
throughout the game, four of which were in scoring position.
Our team has a tendency to lose confidence in themselves at
times, Williams said. Jess Higgins did a great job of
bearing down and coming up with big outs from the mound and we played
solid from there.
Nanticoke Area will now face the winner of District 11 tournament
Monday at a site and time to be determined.
Nanticoke reaches Class AAA final
By Kaylee Ziolkowski - CV
For most high school pitchers, taking the mound for a District 2 semifinal
game is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, not to mention nerve wracking.
But for Nanticoke Area hurler, Jess Higgins, its just another
day at the office.
Higgins tossed a complete game four-hitter
to help lead the Trojans to a 3-1 win over top seeded Northwest Area
on Friday. With the win, Nanticoke Area advances to the Class AA District
2 championship game against the winner of Carbondale/Hanover Area
and Elk Lake on Wednesday at a site to be determined.
Northwest is an excellent hitting team
so I threw a lot more location pitches during warm ups, said
Higgins, who has taken the mound for the Trojans in every game this
season. Then I just took it one pitch at a time and one batter
at a time.
The Trojans struck early, with Jen Harnischfeger
leading the game with a single. She stole second, reached third on
a sacrifice bunt and scored on a Higgins grounder to the right side.
The team really came through as a whole
today, Nanticoke Area coach Gary Williams said. Everyone
did what they were supposed to and good things happened.
The Trojans tacked on two more runs in the
seventh, hightlighted by a double from Morgan Thomas and another single
The Rangers, who stranded four runners throughout
the game, were able to scratch out a run in the bottom of the seventh
inning when Mandi Black led off the inning with a double and scored
on a single from Leah Subsak. But Higgins was too much for the Rangers
to handle as she forced the last batter to hit a slow rolling ground
ball to finish the game.
Thomas led the Trojans on the night going 3-for-3
while Harnischfeger finished 2-for-4 and scored two runs.
Michelle Cragle was the hard luck loser on
the mound for the Rangers.
NANTICOKE AREA 100 000 2 - 3
NORTHWEST AREA 000 000 1 - 1
Nanticoke turns corner, beats Hazleton
Trojans never held lead until bottom of the fifth, when they scored
Gary Williams knew his team wasnt playing its
best early Friday against Hazleton Area, but the longtime Nanticoke
coach had a feeling the girls were going to turn the corner.
And thats exactly what the Trojans did
to pull out a 6-4 Wyoming Valley Conference Division I East win over
After committing three errors in the first
three innings, the Trojans stuck with their game and played soundly
the rest of the contest to knock off the Class 4A powerhouse, scoring
five runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
They showed a lot of grit out there,
and they just came together, Williams said. They just
played hard, and eventually good things started to happen.
The Trojans (5-0) never held a lead until the
bottom of the fifth, when they sent nine batters to the plate and
scored three runs. Shannon Kowalski and Jen Harnischfeger each had
run-scoring singles for Nanticoke, which trailed 4-3 entering the
It was a great game and back and forth,
Cougars coach Jason Turri said. (Nanticoke) hit the ball really
hard today and we made some mental mistakes that hurt.
The Cougars (4-1) jumped out to a 1-0 lead
in the top of the first inning when Briana Dudeck, who reached base
three times and scored each time, led off with a triple and scored
on a groundout by Kelcey Landis.
The Trojans returned the favor and tied the
score when Harnischfeger, their leadoff hitter, singled to start the
bottom of the first and came around to score. The sophomore shortstop
also had a pair of stolen bases in the contest to help solidify herself
as one of the best top-of-the-lineup players in the WVC.
I told her at the beginning of the year
and I dont usually do this but shes my playmaker,
Williams said. I told her go make things happen and she does.
Shes a great player.
Turri knows the same can be said about Dudeck,
also a sophomore.
Shes doing a great job, and every
game shes always on base, whether its a walk or error,
and ignites our offense, he said. Shes our sparkplug
and really starts us up.
The Cougars scored single runs in the third,
fourth and fifth innings, but couldnt muster much off Nanticoke
pitcher Jess Higgins, who picked up her fifth win of the season. The
senior, who fanned six and retired the last seven hitters she faced,
also went 2-for-3 at the plate.
Knowing we can come out and play with
Hazleton and beat them puts so much confidence in us, Higgins
said. It really picks us up.
The division title can possibly be up for grabs when
the teams meet again on May 14, the last scheduled day of the regular
Hazleton Area 101 110 0 4
Nanticoke 100 230 x 6
WP Jess Higgins, 7 IP, 7H, 4R, 4ER, 1BB, 6K;
LP Brittany Kringer, 6 IP, 11H, 6R, 5ER, 2BB, 7K; 2B
NAN: Morgan Thomas. 3B HAZ: Briana Dudeck. Top hitters -- HAZ:
Dudeck 2-4, Ashley Dinko 2-2. NAN: Jen Harnischfeger 3-4, Amanda Cardone
3-4, Higgins 2-3.
Trojanette Softball Outlook - Times Leader
State Classification: 2A
Coach: Gary Williams
Home field: Nanticoke Little League
Field, behind the high school
Last year: 11-3
Key players: Jess Higgins, Sr., P;
Jen Harnischfeger, So., P/IF; Jess McDermott, So., P; Shannon Kowalski,
Sr., IF/OF; Amanda Cardone, So., SS; Jackie Hauer, Jr., 2B; Katie
Brown, So., OF; Morgan Thomas, Jr., OF; Danielle Havens, Sr., OF;
Amber Rinehamer, Jr., OF; Sara Bertoni, Fr., P/IF; Katie Blockus,
Fr., 1B; Alicia Luczak, Fr., 3B; Clarissa Tarnowski, Fr., IF
Coachs comments: I think
we should be talented enough to strive for a league title and hopefully
that carries to success in the district playoffs. We have a lot of
experienced players coming back and talented new kids that will make
an impact for us this year.