Donegal got out to a hot start against Warwick on Thursday afternoon and was able to pull out a 5-2 victory to open the 2016 softball season. Video by John Buffone
MOUNT JOY — For two heavyweight softball programs, opening day likely proved to be one of the biggest tests of the season.
Taking advantage of an early lead provided by a productive lineup, Donegal’s junior ace Makyla Yoder rode the momentum for a 5-2 victory over the Warwick Warriors Thursday afternoon in Mount Joy.
The win helps the Indians (1-0) get off on the right track after last season’s L-L League and District 3 championships. But the Indians are breaking in some new bats and new gloves this season.
“It was nice,” said Donegal coach Wayne Emenheiser. “Makyla, of course, is going to give you what she gives you in the circle. We still have questions everywhere else. We think our questions are answered, we just have to see it. I think we see it a little bit today with our bats, our kids are hitting the ball.”
Nine-hole hitter Grace Miller provided the biggest punch in the second inning, lining a two-out RBI triple to the opposite field off Warwick sophomore standout Amanda Herr for a 2-0 lead. Miller would score on the second of Savanna Kolenda’s three infield singles as the Indians built a 3-0 lead.
Yoder, with three varsity seasons under her belt, was particularly pleased with the contributions of the young group, including new catcher Morgan Biesecker.
“We have a freshman this year catching in place of (graduated team captain) Rachel Mummau,” Yoder said. “I like her a lot. Then a lot of the girls in the bottom of the lineup have been stepping up and hitting the ball well. Especially this game, Grace Miller hitting that triple.”
Warwick (0-1) rallied for two runs in the seventh off Yoder, scoring on Jo High’s RBI single through the right side to score Catie Brubaker. Nicole Mengel, who reached on a hit-by-pitch, later scored on an error before Kolenda’s one-handed field-and-throw from shortstop ended the inning and the game.
“I think we needed to have that intensity earlier on,” said Warwick coach Mark Hough on the final inning. “I felt a little cheated on that last play because I felt we might have beaten that one out.”
STATS AND NOTES
Yoder struck-out seven in her seven innings of work, giving up three hits and one earned run, to earn the win. Herr took the loss, allowing seven hits while striking-out five and walking one…
All five Donegal runs were scored by different players, with Miller, Kolenda, Yoder, Kaitlyn Witmer and McKenna Berg all driving in runs for the Indians…
Returning all-star Mackenzie Russell was 1-for-3 for Warwick while providing strong defense at second base. Meanwhile, Herr snared a line-drive off the bat of Emily Graham, throwing out Kolenda at first base in the fifth inning for a nifty double-play.
Donegal hosts Elizabethtown on Monday, while Warwick hosts Lampeter-Strasburg.
QUOTES AND QUOTABLE
Yoder, on the early lead and closing the door in the seventh: “We were kind of comfortable the whole game, we always try to stay loose. That last inning I thought we were a little too comfortable. I’m just glad. I felt pretty well. Warming up I didn’t feel well but a couple innings in, I felt pretty good.”
Emenheiser, on facing Warwick pitcher Amanda Herr: “You’re looking at, in my mind, one of the top three or four pitchers in the league without a doubt. For us to come out and hit her was confidence for us. We were pleased. We had a game plan, we worked on it, we knew how she was going to throw. We still have to execute. Grace is one of these kids, a sophomore this year, who is stepping up. She’s one of those kids we’re expecting to step up and give us big things.”
On shuffling his defense with junior Rachel Robinson on IR: “We need to work on our defense; we’re struggling a little bit. We’re missing Rachel’s glove in there a little bit, it’s a big loss there. Hopefully we just keep progressing. Our goal isn’t to be the best we are now, we hope to progressively get better as the season goes on.”
Hough, on his pitcher Herr: “The one strong attribute about Amanda is she’s not going to hang anything on the team, she’s going to take the responsibility that she might have thrown a better pitch. I think she was there and we’re happy where she is right now.”
On the final inning: “A 5-3 game sounds a lot better than a 5-2 game; you never know what is going to happen there. I was glad the girls battled back, that was probably the most important thing, but we’re going to learn from this.”
On a tough nonleague slate: “Facing Donegal and then L-S on Monday, that’s a tough challenge even later in the year. We have a very young team, we have two freshman starting. We have some growing pains there but we’ll be alright.”
DONEGAL 5, WARWICK 2
WW 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 — 2 3 2
DON 1 2 0 0 0 2 x — 5 7 1
SO-BB — DON Makyla Yoder 7-0; WW Amanda Herr 5-1
W — Makyla Yoder (1-0)
L — Amanda Herr (0-1)
2B — none
3B — DON 1 (Grace Miller)
HR — none