NEPA Wolfpack opens Stars and Stripes 14U with two wins

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 2, 2023

NEPA Wolfpack catcher Mira Belle Zangardi follows through on throw that erased CE Angels runner,

By Sean Reilly 

Ava Hazleton is a standout pitcher for the NEPA Wolfpack 14U, but a key to her success is how she never feels a need to carry the load. 

She was the starter for the team based out of the Scranton, Pa. area on Saturday morning against the CE Angels 14U Red at the Diamond Nation Ace’s Stars and Stripes 14U Tournament. 

Hazleton scattered six hits in the seven inning game, striking out five and walking three batters, as the Wolfpack gained a 4-1 victory. 

The Wolfpack followed that triumph by defeating Finch’s Aces Gallo, 8-2, to take an unbeaten record into the final day of the tournament on Sunday. 

When the Wolfpack needed defensive plays, they got them. Most notably, the infield made 10 plays without committing an error. The offense supplied clutch hits when needed, including back-to-back triples with two out in the fourth to tack on two runs that extended a one-run lead. 

“I just had to hit my spots,” Hazleton said. “That’s mainly my goal. I also rely on my defense. Getting those extra runs also helped. But I just keep throwing.”

The Wolfpack is a team that returned everyone from a group that won five of nine tournaments last year on the 14U level. This year, they’ve won two out of three events to start the summer season. 

“We have expectations,” Hazleton said. “We love putting ourselves out there and working for it.”

The CE Angels, from Rockland County, N.Y., began the game with a leadoff single that dropped inside the foul line in shallow right field. But that runner was promptly thrown out attempting to steal by Wolfpack catcher Mira Belle Zangardi. Hazleton then retired the next two batters, on a fly out to left field and ground out to second.

NEPA Wolfpack shortstop Cora Castellani handled five chances at shortstop.

The Wolfpack then scored twice in the bottom of the first.

Cora Castellani led off with a single to left. She was forced out at second base when Belle Forgione hit a fielder’s choice grounder to third base. Lexi Laing hit a hard single to left field that sent Forgione to second.

Zangardi then hit a fly ball to center that was dropped, allowing Forgione to score the first run. A throwing error brought in Laing with the other run. 

The CE Angels closed to 2-1 in the fourth inning. Lauren Stewart (2-for-3) led off with a single and moved to second on a ground out. Therese Adams walked, and Dani Daproza hit a ball to the outfield that resulted in the only error committed by the Wolfpack. It loaded the bases for Trinity Horn, who hit a sacrifice fly that was caught by second baseman Eva Kaszuba in shallow right field. The next batter grounded out to shortstop Castellani, one of several impressive plays that she made in the game: 

The Wolfpack added two runs in the bottom of the frame. Castellani led off with a double to the left field corner and then stole third. A ground out to shortstop and pop up to second on the next pitch made it seem like Castellani might wind up stranded, but instead Zangardi hit an RBI triple to center, and Abby Franklin tripled to right field for a three-run lead. 

It was an active game for Zangardi. After throwing out the Angels’ leadoff batter trying to steal in the first inning, no one tested her arm for the remainder of the game. Her two balls hit to the outfield also factored into every run for her team. 

“The defense is very important,” she said. “It’s also important to put the ball in play. But I try not to put pressure on myself. I have confidence in myself, because I know that if I’m not confident, I’m not going to hit.”

The Wolfpack will complete pool play with a matchup against Jersey Girls 14U Regnault (0-2) on Sunday morning. 

“This was a good way to start off.” Zangardi said. 

The CE Angels beat the Rhode Island Crush, 7-2, in their second game. They complete pool play against Finch’s Aces Gallo on Sunday. 

All 10 teams in the field will be seeded for playoffs that will conclude with the championship game at 8:30 p.m. today.

Share With A Friend:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *