SOFTBALL: Donegal and Lampeter-Strasburg to meet in L-L finals
What a difference "the second season" can make.
For the second time in two years, Section Three rivals Donegal and Lampeter-Strasburg will square off for the Lancaster-Lebanon League softball title after each team posted a come-from-behind, one-run victory Monday evening at Garrett Field in Willow Street.
Donegal (20-3) got a timely double from freshman Savanna Kolenda in the bottom of the sixth inning as the Lady Indians came back to defeat Hempfield, 4-3, in the first semifinal contest.
Not to be outdone, Section Three champion Lampeter-Strasburg (20-2) took advantage of a 14-strikeout, no-hit performance from pitcher Jordan Weaver and a pair of two-out RBI singles from leadoff batter Bri Garber as the Lady Pioneers turned away Section One champion Warwick, 2-1.
As a result, Donegal and Lampeter-Strasburg will meet for the third time in ten days and fourth time this season for Wednesday's championship game, scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at Garrett Field.
"Honestly, not to put anything beneath another thing, but we always call it our second season and it always starts the L-S game at the end of the (regular season)," said Donegal head coach Wayne Emenheiser. "The young kids have to learn what the second season is about, but the older girls know that it's just a whole different mindset."
Kolenda seemed to have both the playoffs and Hempfield's junior pitcher Lauren Lichtenwalner figured out by the sixth inning Monday, fouling-off several Lichtenwalner pitches before drilling a two-run double to left-center field.
"As soon as I get to two strikes, all that was going through my head was, alright, (have) confidence up there, just be the best two-strike hitter I can be, just go up and hit the ball," Kolenda said.
The freshman's big hit turned a one-run deficit into a 4-3 lead, scoring pinch-runner Grace Miller and centerfielder Emily Graham to back the performance of sophomore Makyla Yoder in the circle.
"I'm just so proud of them," said Yoder. "We never gave up, to the last inning we kept fighting."
That includes Yoder, who admittedly lacked movement on her pitches early in the contest as Hempfield (16-6) took a 3-0 lead.
Yoder bobbled a tapper to the circle in the first inning allowing Lady Knights' lead-off batter Nikki Rhoads (2-for-4, double) to score the opening run. In the third inning, Lichtenwalner (2-for-3, two RBI) helped her own cause with a two-run single that scored Danielle Steiner (2-for-3, sacrifice) and Mady Popalis.
Hempfield ultimately out-hit Donegal 9-5, but the Lady Indians crawled back into the game in the fifth inning on an RBI single by Kaitlyn Witmer, scoring Rachel Robinson, before pinch-runner McKenna Berg came home on an error off the bat of Hornick to close to within 3-2.
Having taken the lead in the sixth, Yoder allowed a one-out double to Rhoads before closing the door with a pair of pop-ups.
In game number two, a pair of pop-ups would have looked pretty good as Weaver dominated the Lady Warriors potent lineup, which had posted a run-rule victory over the Lady Pioneers midway through the season.
But Weaver's return to form coincides with Lampeter-Strasburg's own playoff push, as the junior ace now has 27 strikeouts in 15 innings of work in the league tournament.
"That's what I train for all winter with my travel team," Weaver said on getting stronger as the season progresses. "We're in a great position and we just have to keep things rolling and see where it takes us."
With Warwick taking a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning on a pair of walks and an errant throw from third base on a sacrifice attempt-later missing an opportunity for another run when the runner at third base strayed too far off the bag and was unable to tag up on Jo High's deep drive to right field-the Pioneers were forced to battle back against Warrior's pitcher Amanda Herr (8K's, 1 BB).
First, Garber tied the game for L-S in the fifth inning, rapping a changeup from Herr back up the middle to score pinch-runner Kate Rohrer from second base.
In the seventh, Robin Feaster led off with a single to center, moving to second on Delaney Groff's sacrifice and third on a groundout to second, scoring when Garber tapped to third-baseman Nicole Mengel and beat-out the throw to first for the walk-off win.
"I'm really excited to play Donegal (for the championship), we've played them three times already this year," Garber said, also referencing their four games versus the Lady Indians from a year ago. "We have to play them four times every year, apparently."
For Donegal and Lampeter-Strasburg, it seems to be a common consequence of "the second season."
Girls' High School Softball
L-L Semifinal #1
Donegal 4, Hempfield 3
HEM 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 - 3 9 3
DON 0 0 0 2 0 2 x - 4 5 1
WP-M. Yoder; LP-L. Lichtenwalner
K-BB-L. Lichtenwalner (6IP, 1K, 3BB) and Z. Schneck; M. Yoder (7IP, 4K, 1BB) and R. Mummau 2B-S. Kolenda
Girls' High School Softball
L-L Semifinal #2
Lampeter-Strasburg 2, Warwick 1
WW 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 - 1 0 1
L-S 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 - 2 6 1
WP-J. Weaver; LP-A. Herr
K-BB-A. Herr (6.2IP, 8K, 1BB) and J. High; J. Weaver (7IP, 14K, 2BB, HB) and K. Weaver