Falcons reach D-11 title game
Salisbury saw each of its past two softball seasons end in the District 11 semifinal round, just a win away from reaching the championship game.
Head coach Jeff Appleman, now in his fourth season at Salisbury, got that monkey off his back last Thursday.
Emily Silberman pitched a two-hitter in Salisbury’s 3-1 win in 10 innings against Palmerton last week at Northwestern High School, advancing the Lady Falcons to the District 11 Class 3A title game. As the No. 6 seed, the Lady Falcons faced top-seeded Pine Grove in Tuesday’s championship, which was played after Press deadline.
“It feels great,” Appleman said. “We got off to such a slow start, but to be in this position and to have this opportunity is something we progressed to and earned.
“I don’t think any [Salisbury softball] team has ever gone this far.”
While Emily Silberman was dominant on the mound, it was her sister Marcie Silberman who put the final stamp on Salisbury’s ticket to the district final. Marcie Silberman blasted the game-winning two-run home run in the top of the 10th inning, her second homer of the game.
“Marcie had big hits,” Appleman said. “For a freshman to come through like that in a big game was fantastic.
“I’m happy to be coaching such great kids in this game. To be the first team to accomplish something would be awesome. It’s always great to be the first to do something.”
The freshman got Salisbury’s offense on the board early, too. She blasted what would be her second home run in as many games to put the Lady Falcons in front, 1-0, in the second inning.
Marcie Silberman also launched one over the fence in Salisbury’s district quarterfinal win over North Schuylkill to put that game away. Then she one-upped that performance with two home runs against a Palmerton team that beat Salisbury twice in the regular season and won the Colonial League crown.
Paige Shupp scored on a passed ball in the fourth inning for Palmerton’s only run.
“It was definitely a pitchers’ duel between Emily and Lexi Merkel,” Appleman said. “Emily only let up two hits in 10 innings, and our defense was superb. It’s been the biggest improvement in our season.”
Merkel played a major role in Palmerton’s first league crown a couple weeks ago, and she was once again dominant against Salisbury with 15 strikeouts. But Appleman’s hitters stayed poised over the entire 10 innings until their patience paid off.
“We wanted to work the counts in our favor,” Appleman said. “I’m not sure if it worked, but not having a plan and swinging at everything sure wouldn’t have worked.”
Appleman is familiar with Pine Grove after playing the Cardinals in last year’s district tournament. Pine Grove came out on top last spring, 5-2, in the semifinals.
This year’s team presents a whole new set of challenges. Pine Grove is 20-0 and has largely been untested. Seventeen of those 20 wins have been by at least 10 runs.
But with the way the Lady Falcons have been playing lately, Appleman gives Salisbury a chance.
“We played them last year in districts, too,” Appleman said. “They are fast. They can hit, and they are aggressive. But we can beat them. We have improved greatly from the beginning of the season. We have tough-minded kids and they battle.”