Clinton (Juniors) begin state tournament run today
LOCK HAVEN- At the conclusion of the school year the Clinton County (Juniors) circled the second weekend of July on their calendar.
The All Stars have spent countless hours on the softball field–and after last Sunday’s District crown Clinton faces the Section 4 Indiana All Stars today in the opening round of the Pennsylvania Junior Softball Little League State Championship.
“I’m just incredibly proud of the effort that the girls have put in practices, and how hard they’ve worked both this year and in years past,” Clinton coach Matt Burrows said. “With this group of girls we had fallen short in districts a number of times, so for them to win sectionals this year really speaks of their hard work and dedication.”
Sunday’s sectional win provided Clinton three days to prepare for this weekend’s eight-team state tournament. Burrows has increased the practice’s intensity this week while sticking to rounding out the game’s fundamentals.
“We’ve tweaked a few things based on the things we’ve noticed in our games,” Burrows explained. “On Monday we focused on improving our base running, and we practiced a lot in the infield and outfield. And on Tuesday we focused quite a bit on our hitting, timely-bunting and also our bunt-defense.
“We anticipate that we’re going to see a considerable amount of bunting, in addition to probably a higher level of pitching than what we saw in Sectionals. And [Wednesday’s] practice will wrap up more with a focus of hitting.”
HOW CLINTON GOT HERE
Clinton County’s solo status in District 12 automatically granted them a title and trip to Sectionals. Sectionals was a two-team, best-of-three series between Clinton And Towanda with Clinton winning the series 2-1.
The All Stars secured their state bid with a 15-3 elimination-game win over Towanda Sunday. Clinton smacked 15 hits in the game, with six batters (Hana Styers, Claire Long, Audrey Walker, Kelsey Burrows, Adalynn McKeague and Madison Toner] each recording a pair of hits. Adalynn McKeague earned the win as she struckout seven Towanda batters.
“We just had timely hitting and excellent base running,” Burrows explained. “And I think in the game we had ten stolen bases. Their [aggression] running the bases is remarkable .They’re aggressive, not reckless, and we just put so much pressure on Townada that they really struggled, defensively, to handle it.”
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM CLINTON
Burrows expects his entire roster to make significant contributions this tournament, but ultimately pitching will play a pivotal role this weekend.
“Adalynn McKeague is our No. 1 pitcher,” Burrows said. “She’s been outstanding in the circle. In both baseball, and softball, pitching is so critical to the success of the team. So we’ve been blessed to have three really good pitchers with Adalynn McKeague, Bree Weaver and Julia Schubach.”
At the plate the team’s lineup is evenly balanced as all hitters are expected to help carry the load.
Hana Styers is the team’s top hitter and leads Clinton with five hits and .500 batting average this season. Delaney Cohen is batting 3-for-5 this season with two sac-bunts and four runs scored. Claire Long and Adalynn McKeague each have four hits on the season.
“Hitting-wise, Hana Styers and Audrey Walker are two of the girls who carried the large part of the hitting in Sectionals,” Burrows said. “And Claire Long had a couple of stolen bases and plays extremely fast on the base path as well.
“But this is truly a team effort. We don’t expect one thing out of any particular girl.”
Clinton opens the Pennsylvania Junior Softball Little League State Championship today versus the Indiana All Stars at Ber-Vaughn Park in Berwick, PA. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.