Akelaitis leads Tigers past Falcons
The pitching matchup between Salisbury and Northwestern Lehigh in their recent softball meeting was a good one. The game matched senior Emily Akelaitis for Northwestern against Salisbury junior Emily Silberman. In this meeting, Akelaitis got the better of the matchup both on the mound and at the plate as Northwestern downed the Falcons 6-2.
In the pitcher’s circle, Akelaitis threw a complete game, striking out 10 batters in the process. At the plate, she finished the day with a single and two doubles, scoring three runs. The day at the plate helped move Akelaitis closer to the 100-hit mark for her career. She currently stands at 97. That milestone means a lot to Akelaitis, especially after how she started her varsity career.
“My freshman year I maybe had 10 hits total, so I was thinking ‘what am I going to do to help the team?’ I wasn’t doing my part at that point,” she said. “I definitely learned a lot about the game by being a pitcher, but you also have to separate the two. When I’m at the plate, I’m worried about hitting and when I’m on the mound, I’m worried about pitching. It was just a lot of practice and taking reps and a lot of mental work because if you go up there with the wrong approach, you’re already beaten.”
Northwestern (9-2 overall, 7-1 Colonial) put a run on the board with two outs in the first inning on Akelaitis’ first double and a triple from Morgan Farthing. Akelaitis gave up a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning, but was a lot tougher after that, including striking out seven straight hitters at one point.
The Tigers put a second run on the board in the third, coming again with two outs. Akelaitis singled to right center field and Farthing again followed with a hit, this time an RBI double to make it 2-0. Olivia Stofflet led off the fourth with a triple to right and two outs later, Brynn Balliet doubled to bring her home. Molly Mitman made it back-to-back doubles and a 4-0 Tigers lead.
“She pitched phenomenally,” said Northwestern head coach Josh Zimmerman of Akelaitis’ outing. “And she had the back-up out in the field. The girls were really backing her up and making sure she could stay comfortable, knowing she had a defense that was going to make plays for her.”
The Tigers stretched it to 6-1 in the fifth when they opened the inning with three straight hits, including another pair of back-to-back doubles from Akelaitis and Farthing. Ashley Sicso dropped a hit into right field to put runners on first and third and one out later, it was Samantha Sisco’s turn as she hit a sacrifice fly down the right field line to bring home Farthing and make it 6-1.
Salisbury (3-6, 3-6) looked to rally in the seventh and added a run on a walk, a wild pitch and back-to-back singles. From there, Akelaitis put away the final two batters, including striking out Silberman to end the game.
“No matter what, the other team is going to get some hits and you have to come to terms with that and not let it bother you,” said Akelaitis. “I’m okay with that because we were hitting and were able to make up for that.”
In two games since beating Salisbury, Northwestern has pounded Palisades and Catasauqua by a combined score of 30-0. Akelaitis shut down Palisades (0-10, 0-8) and Balliet handled the pitching in the 16-0 win over the Lady Rough Riders. Mitman, a sophomore, hit a solo home run against Palisades and added a grand slam in the win over Catasauqua (0-8, 0-6). Isabella Teprovich, a freshman, also homered against Catty.
The Lady Tigers have been a home run machine this season, with 14 long balls. Farthing leads with five homers. Akelaitis has four and Mitman now has three.
Even with all of the offense, Zimmerman is impressed with other aspects of how well his team has played this season.
“We’ve had enough offensive output from just about every part of the lineup and I couldn’t be happier with where we are with that at this point in the season,” Zimmerman said. “Just as quick as you can get hot, you can get cold, but I’m prouder of the defense that we’ve played. If the bats go a little cold, it’s nice to know you’re never going to be out of the game with the pitching and the defense.”