FREDERICKSBURG >> Swing the bats well enough and you can overcome a multitude of softball sins.
Such as six errors and a 3-0 first-inning deficit.
Two days after its bats were completely silenced in an 8-0 loss to Donegal, the Northern Lebanon softball team had its hitting shoes on Wednesday afternoon, pounding out nine hits off Elco ace Claire Shaak en route to a 7-5 win over the Raiders in a Section Three battle of county rivals at Northern Lebanon High School.
On the way to overcoming the above listed misfortune, the Vikings bunched all seven of their runs in the second and third innings, including a four-run, five-hit outburst in the third highlighted by Sarah Whitman's two-run double.
The encouraging outcome for Northern Lebanon left it 3-3 overall and 3-2 in Section Three, while on the opposite side of the coin a disheartened Elco club fell to 2-3 both overall and in the section after letting one get away.
"I don't know what it is; we just don't hit," said Northern Lebanon co-head coach Dale Kreiser, looking back at the Donegal game. "But now tonight was a different story. If we hit, we're all right. Our hitting is our biggest issue. If we get our hitting going, we have an opportunity (to be successful)."
It was the Raiders who had the bats going first, getting RBI singles from Beth Hess and Maddie Drescher and a run-scoring double from Shaak to grab the aforementioned 3-0 lead in the top of the first.
Two of the Vikings' six miscues in the field helped the Elco cause as well, and seemed to signal more good things to come for head coach Dennis Morgan's club.
Not quite. Some shaky baserunning and Northern Lebanon catcher Cortney Hostetter's diving grab of a fouled-off bunt thwarted a promising second-inning threat and Elco never fully recovered.
"We stopped," a disappointed Morgan said. "To me, we gave the game away. We threw it away with poor baserunning, poor fielding and poor throwing. "I don't want to take anything away from them, they played a heads-up game. But we did not."
The Vikings began their comeback bid in the home half of the second with the help of two Elco errors that allowed Nicole Ditzler and Kasey Smoot to reach bases to open the inning.
Kelly Shuey and Richelle Kreiser followed with RBI singles that helped knot the score at 3-3.
Elco reclaimed the lead in the third on a costly two-out infield error by the Vikes, but it would be short-lived.
Northern Lebanon followed with a most productive bottom of the third, smacking five base hits, including Whitman's two-run two-bagger. Whitman, Shuey and Richelle Kreiser, NL's No. 7, 8 and 9 hitters combined for four hits and four RBIs on Wednesday.
"No matter where you are in the lineup all that matters is that you come through with that clutch hit and make it happen," Kreiser said. "And they did and that sparked us. That was great."
Elco touched Jess Kreiser for a single run in the fourth to get the visitors to within 7-5, but Northern Lebanon's ace settled down from there, allowing only two base runners in the final 3 1/3 innings, one of which was erased by a line-drive double play started by Erica Dulac.
"Totally frustrating," Morgan said. "I told the girls I hope this doesn't come back to bite us. We just didn't play well. That was a frustrating game."
At least for Elco it was. The Vikings had a little bit different view of things.
Hitting the ball with authority at the right time has a way of changing perspective.
W — Jess Kreiser; L — Claire Shaak
SO-BB — E: Shaak (6 IP, 6 K, 1 BB), NL: Kreiser (7 IP, 1 K, 1 BB)
2B — E: Shaak, NL: Sarah Whitman
3B — E: Sam Strauser