District 2 had a successful year in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association baseball and softball playoffs and a former Elk Lake athlete was right in the middle of that success.
Bob Hegedty, a 1991 Elk Lake graduate, took his Tunkhannock softball team to the state championship game for the second time in five seasons as head coach.
When the 2020-21 high school sports year came to an end Thursday and Friday at Penn State University, District 2 still had three teams pursuing Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state championships.
Tunkhannock and Mid Valley, in softball, as well as Wyoming Area, in baseball, all played in state finals, but came up short, settling for second place.
Of the three, Tunkhannock was the only one that did not have a lead in the state final. It was also the team to come the closest to pulling out a win, extending its game with unbeaten Beaver into extra innings before losing, 5-4, in nine Thursday in the Class 4A final at Baird Field.
The Lady Tigers did not have a hit for five innings against Virginia Tech-commit Payton List, but they rallied to force extra innings by scoring once in the sixth and three more times in the bottom of the seventh. After putting the potential winning run in scoring position in the seventh and eighth innings, Tunkhannock lost on an unearned run in the ninth inning.
"We had a couple mistakes I'd like to have back," Hegedty said. "It is what it is. We fought hard."
With players from Tunkhannock's trip to the 2018 Little League Softball World Series championship game leading the way, the Lady Tigers advanced all the way to the state championship game with six sophomores and a freshman in the starting lineup.
"For kids that young to not quit, and to battle and keep working for runs, it was fantastic," Hegedty said. "I was proud of them."
Tunkhannock won Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 and District 2 Class 4A titles on the way to a 23-3 finish.
Hegedty is no stranger to PIAA championship events.
As a wrestler at Elk Lake, he earned a sixth-place state medal in Class 2A at 160 pounds in the 1991 state wrestling tournament. He took wrestlers back to Hershey as wrestling coach at Tunkhannock, a position he no longer holds.
Hegedty took over the softball program in time for the 2016 season and the Lady Tigers advanced to the state final in 2017. They lost 5-3 to Mount Pleasant, the team that beat Mid Valley by the same score Friday in the Class 3A championship game.
"Nothing's easy," Hegedty said. "We still have to work. Our ultimate goal is to win it all and their pitcher is only a junior. They've got most of the team back. With any luck, we could meet here and have a rematch.
"We had another group that was here with sophomores and never got back with them. We've just got to work."
All three District 2 state finalists lost to teams from District 7, the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League schools from suburban Pittsburgh.
Wyoming Area fell to New Castle, 7-3, in Class 4A baseball.
Although it done not produce a state championship, this was a successful year overall for District 2 baseball and softball teams in the state tournament.
District baseball teams went 10-7 in state play with six of the seven winning in the first round. District softball teams were 9-7.
Line Mountain, the team that eliminated Susquehanna County's entry in the state tournament, went on to take the Class 2A softball title Thursday with a 1-0 victory over Ligonier Valley in nine innings in the first game of the series of championships.
The District 4 champions did not allow a run in the tournament. They got started toward the title with a 6-0 victory over Elk Lake in a first-round game June 7.
Corey Daniels, a freshman second baseman from Forest City, played eight games for the Juniata College baseball.
Daniels went 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com or followed on Twitter at @tomjrobinson.