Hazleton, Pa. – The Lady Lions kicked off their season with their annual trip to the sunshine state last week, playing in seven games and one exhibition at the spring games in Clermont, Fl. Hazleton finished the week with a 2-5 record, picking up wins over Eastern University and Dominican University of Illinois and went the full seven innings in all but one of their losses during the week. Overall, a strong set of outings to start off the season for a squad with their eye on a post-season run in the Penn State University Athletic Conference.
In the circle – Although it didn't show up in the win column, Hazleton hurlers served up strong efforts against quality opponents in the spring games. Senior Sam Varela (Hazleton, Pa.) did most of the heavy lifting, tossing 24 innings throughout the week with one win in four starts. Varela struck out 15 hitters in her appearances issued just three walks in her final 17 innings of action. In Hazleton's 5-1 over Dominican University, the senior tossed a complete game, allowing just four hits and one earned run to earn the victory. Also making headlines in Florida was freshman Madison Clark (Emmaus, Pa.). The hard-throwing right hander pitched 13 innings over the course of the week, earning one win in two starts. Clark ended the week with a 3.23 earned run average and 10 strikeouts with her best outing coming against Eastern University on Monday, March 4. Clark tossed six shut-out innings in the 8-0 win for Hazleton, allowing just two hits and two walks in her first start of the season.
At the dish – Hazleton earned just two wins of the course of the week but looked solid at the plate, totaling 23 runs in seven games. Varela was even more locked in at the plate than she was from the circle. All six of the senior's hits went for extra bases and Varela struck for four home runs and nine RBI. Two of Varela's bombs came in Hazleton's 8-0 over Eastern, the second of which was a grand slam that put the mercy rule in effect the following inning. But the senior wasn't the only Lady Lion to get quality work in at the plate. Fifteen Lady Lions picked up base hits throughout the week totaling 43 knocks and accompanied by 20 walks. Freshman Jaclyn Hess (Bangor, Pa.) finished the week 6-for-18 at the plate, adding two runs scored while Clark and junior Jerrika Chorba (Bloomsburg, Pa.) both collected four hits and an RBI of the course of play. Eight other Lady Lions collected multiple hits during the week, surely a sign of good things to come this season.
Next up – The Lady Lions are off until March 19 when they host Clarks Summit University followed by two more non-conference series before starting conference play on Friday, March 29 at Penn State Scranton.