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Hamburg softball completes comeback, tops Berks Catholic

The last time Berks Catholic and Hamburg shared the diamond, the Saints beat the Hawks in nine innings in a 2023 Berks semifinal at Lyons Field.

Eleven months later, with memories of the previous matchup still looming, Hamburg found itself trailing Berks Catholic by one run in the sixth inning and in desperate need of an offensive spark.

Despite the quiet day at the plate thus far, the Hawks ensured the first rematch of 2024 between the two teams would be different.

With two outs, Hamburg rallied, stringing together four straight hits to come back and defeat the Saints 4-2 in a Berks Girls Softball League Division III game on Monday at Hamburg.

“We want to win,” Hawks senior Kylah Reading said. “We want to beat them and that’s what we came to do today.”

After third baseman Jenna Shuman reached base with a single and then stole second, Reading stepped up to the plate and delivered, hitting a single to allow Shuman to score and tie it 2-2.

“My approach was to hit it behind the runner,” said Reading, the 2023 Berks Softball League Player of the Year. “Key thing is to hit it behind the runner so the runner can advance.”

Pitcher Hailey Strunk brought Reading home on the next at-bat, as the senior hit the go-ahead RBI double to make it 3-2. First baseman Erica Gerner followed with another RBI double, allowing Strunk to score and giving the Hawks a 4-2 lead.

“We all connected with each other there at the end,” Reading said. “We all talk to each other.”

The four hits lifted the Hawks (2-0, 6-1) to their sixth win of the season, the most in Berks. Hamburg finished with six total hits.

“We don’t stop,” Strunk said. “We can be down by eight and I have full faith in this team to come back no matter what.”

Strunk was dominant in the circle, allowing two runs — one of which was unearned — on six hits in seven innings. She had 11 strikeouts, giving her more than 300 for her high school career.

“I couldn’t do it without my catcher Shayna (Morales) and the rest of my teammates, they constantly push me every day,” Strunk said. “It means a lot.”

The Saints (0-1, 2-1) opened the scoring in the first with an RBI single from first baseman Julia Schaffer. The Hawks responded in their half of the first, as Reading hit a sacrifice fly which allowed center fielder Amelia Gassert to score.

Berks Catholic broke the 1-1 tie in the third when pitcher Danielle Hayward scored on an error. Hayward scored both runs for the Saints.

The senior also protected Berks Catholic’s lead for the majority of the game, stifling the Hamburg offense until the sixth inning rally. She allowed four runs on six hits in the loss.

“I locked in and I tried to adjust to everything else she threw me,” Strunk said about facing Hayward in the sixth inning. “She’s a really good pitcher.”

While the victory over the Saints gives the Hawks sole possession of first place in Berks III and a wealth of confidence, Hamburg remains focused.

“We come here and practice hard every day,” Reading said. “We want to have a really good season.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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