They were the Carpenter Cup’s comeback kids.
Lehigh Valley’s late-game heroics had been commonplace at the prestigious tournament.
Down a run entering the final frames in each of their past two games, the squad had come up clutch to win both and reach title game.
And there was a belief the LV squad would do it again Tuesday at Citizen’s Bank Park.
But it was Burlington County (NJ) that broke open a tie game with two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to claim the Carpenter Cup Classic championship with a 4-2 win over Lehigh Valley.
No matter the outcome, Northwestern was always able to put the result in perspective.
The even-keel mentality stemmed, in large part, from the Tigers mix of youth and experience on their roster this season.
Ashley Sisco and Emily Akelaitis – the team’s only seniors – were key in helping Northwestern stay grounded after big wins, and vital to helping the team find its way through the down times.
Their leadership was on display again Friday after the Tigers’ season ended with a 5-1 loss to Blue Mountain in the District 11 Class 4A title game.
It was the same heart and hustle that propelled Northwestern to the doorstep of a district title.
It just wasn’t enough to push the Tigers past one more hurdle.
Blue Mountain took advantage of its opportunities in key moments Friday to capture its first District 11 title, topping Northwestern 5-1 in the Class 4A title game at Parkland High School.
The Eagles (17-6) took an early lead with two runs in the top of the third, and added three more in the top of the fifth, separating themselves in what was a one-run game.
Northwestern’s baseball season came to an end Monday in the first round of the PIAA Class 4A playoffs.
The Tigers fell 3-2 to District 3 champ East Pennsboro after winning a play-in game last Friday to get into the state tournament field.
Jake Madden’s late-inning heroics kick-started a rally that pushed East Pennsboro past Northwestern and into state quarterfinals Monday night at Wenger Field in Fredericksburg.
In just a few days we’ll be talking about who is moving on to regionals.
District champions will be crowned, and the field will be thinned as the 2018-19 high school wrestling season moves one week closer to its conclusion at the state tournament in Hershey.
The prospect of seeing his season continue beyond districts is almost all Will Dellicker can think about.
But the Northwestern senior is more excited about doing it with brothers Jake and Eli.
Just like Jim Moll drew it up.
Northwestern survived a bevy of contenders to reach the consolation final and place fourth at the District 11 Class 2A team wrestling championships Saturday.
“We wrestled well over the last two days, Thursday and today,” said the Tigers’ head coach. “As the 10th seed, I feel like our guys came in and did well, outperformed what our seed was, however much that means I don’t know. But we looked good, which is what I care about.”
Time will tell what it means at the end of the year.
But for one night, its importance was obvious.
An early-season Colonial League showdown with Palmerton last Thursday was a chance for Northwestern boys basketball coach Billy Hallman to find out a little bit more about his team.
The Tigers gave Hallman exactly what he was looking for with a 55-43 victory over the Bombers.
Chris Stitzel gathered his team, much like he does before every race.
But this time was different.
The Northwestern cross country coach knew what was on the line. Coming off Colonial League and District 11 titles, Stitzel was well aware the Tigers entered Saturday’s PIAA Cross Country Championships with a realistic opportunity to contend in the Class 2A field.
The Northwestern girls cross country team regularly qualifies for the PIAA Championships. But this year, with a change in the number of teams that qualify from District 11, things were just a little more difficult.
Just one team from the district would qualify for states this year, so the Tigers had to win the whole thing in order to advance. And they did just that last Wednesday at Bethlehem Municipal Golf Course.
The Tigers ran in a tight pack, placing their top five runners in the top 20 to earn the program’s first district title since 2014.
Lissa Opolsky didn’t have to look far for a reminder.
“We looked up at the board that’s on our field the other day when we were practicing, and the last district championship that’s posted on there is from 2004,” said the Northwestern field hockey head coach.
The Tigers moved one step closer to ending that drought on Monday, powering past Wilson 4-0 in the District 11 Class A semifinals.
Northwestern will play No. 1 seed Lehighton in the final.