Redbirds find success on softball diamond during 2021 campaign

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The Allentown High School softball team congratulates #12 Kaylee Mushinski for hitting a home run during a game against Hopewell Valley on May 13 in Allentown. Allentown defeated Hopewell Valley 5-0.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School starting pitcher Carley Noble fires in a strike during a game against Hopewell Valley on May 13 in Allentown. Noble struck out eight batters in the contest.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School first baseman Kaylee Mushinski smashes a solo home run over the center-field fence during a game against Hopewell Valley on May 13 in Allentown. Musinski had two hits in the contest.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School third baseman Stella Logan throws out the runner at first base during a game against Hopewell Valley on May 13 in Allentown. Allentown won 5-0.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School catcher Emily Lohcamp dives back safely to first base during a game against Hopewell Valley on May 13 in Allentown. Lohcamp had an RBI single in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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The Allentown High School softball team congratulates #12 Kaylee Mushinski for hitting a home run during a game against Hopewell Valley on May 13 in Allentown. Allentown defeated Hopewell Valley 5-0.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School starting pitcher Carley Noble fires in a strike during a game against Hopewell Valley on May 13 in Allentown. Noble struck out eight batters in the contest.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School first baseman Kaylee Mushinski smashes a solo home run over the center-field fence during a game against Hopewell Valley on May 13 in Allentown. Musinski had two hits in the contest.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School third baseman Stella Logan throws out the runner at first base during a game against Hopewell Valley on May 13 in Allentown. Allentown won 5-0.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Allentown High School catcher Emily Lohcamp dives back safely to first base during a game against Hopewell Valley on May 13 in Allentown. Lohcamp had an RBI single in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

Things are beginning to click on the diamond for the Allentown High School softball team.

Following a victory over Hightstown on May 11 in the quarterfinals of the Colonial Valley Conference Tournament, Allentown scored its ninth victory of the 2021 season against Hopewell Valley Central on May 13 in Allentown.

After watching his the Redbirds (9-4) win four of their last five games, Coach Richard Dawson sees his players starting to believe in themselves.

“We are seeing the girls excel to what we expect,” Dawson said after the Redbirds’ victory over Hopewell Valley. “It’s a learning process. Last year it hurt because we didn’t get to play (when the 2020 season was cancelled by the coronavirus pandemice). We are learning on the fly.”

Allentown notched a 5-0 victory over Hopewell Valley behind a complete-game performance from junior righthander Carley Noble, who struck out eight hitters.

“It feels awesome,” Noble said about her complete game shutout. “I have been waiting to pitch a full game. I have been working on my spin and that definitely helped. I pounded my fastball inside and outside depending on their weakness and it worked out.”

As Noble kept the Bulldogs off the board, the Redbirds’ offense scored all five runs in the first four innings to take control of the contest.

Junior Kaylee Mushinski led off the second inning with a home run off the scoreboard in centerfield. After initially thinking the ball hit the fence, Mushinski realized it was a home run when she saw her teammates running to home plate to congratulate her.

“When I saw them jumping up and down it just made me smile,” Mushinski said. “I have been working really hard. This was really big for me.”

Mushinski and Noelle Anthony are the two Redbirds who have hit home runs thus far.

Mushinski’s two hits against Hopewell Valley give her a team-high 20 hits. Junior Emily Zuppa has 19 and leads the team with 11 RBI.

Dawson and Mushinski believe the success Mushinski has had this season is a result of the work she has been putting in at the batting cage.

“I’m really happy to have Coach Dawson and Coach Tori (Zangrilli), and to have the chance to work with them as a junior. I can’t wait for next year, too,” she said.

Allentown added four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Junior Emily Lohkamp started the offense with a single up the middle to score Olivia Sacco for a 2-0 lead.

Noble singled to make the score 3-0, Anthony scored on a double steal for a 4-0 lead and Noble pushed the Redbirds’ lead to 5-0 when she scored on a wild pitch.

Helping her team at the plate and in the pitching circle gave Noble a measure of pride.

“I felt like I did my job for the team and that’s all I can do. It felt great,” she said.

Dawson’s message to his players for the rest of the season is “trust yourself” and “be consistent” on the field.

“It’s a mental factor. If you trust your abilities, you can go places,” the coach said.

Allentown is scheduled to host Princeton on May 15. The Redbirds will play Notre Dame High School in the semifinals of the CVC tournament on May 20.