WITMER — Matching zeroes doesn't always look good early in the season, but for a pair of teams looking to get in the spring groove, Tuesday’s battle between Manheim Central and Conestoga Valley didn’t lack for excitement.
In the end, Barons’ sophomore pitcher Maddie Walter out-dueled the Bucks’ Alexia Trott, Walter and her Barons teammates withstanding a second-and-third, one-out jam in the seventh to preserve the slim 1-0 victory.
CV’s Sarah Eby reached to open the bottom of the seventh on a hit-by-pitch, moving to second after Trott’s infield pop-up fell between shortstop and third base. An unorthodox infield fly allowed the runners to move up before Walter induced a foul pop and flyout to left to end the threat.
“I was really stressed out,” Walter admitted after the game. “But I’m like, you know, what I need is to stay strong and just focus and get it done.”
Central’s Gabby Hahn tallied the first base hit for either team in the top of the fifth inning.
But Manheim Central (1-1) pushed across the winning run in the top of the sixth inning, when the Barons’ scheduled rotation saw Rebecca Montgomery pinch-hit for Hahn with runners on first and second.
Montgomery laid down a perfect bunt, though, in which the Bucks’ catcher threw high to third off the shortstop’s glove. The high throw allowed Morgan Herr, who had walked, to score the game’s only run, while Walter was thrown out at the plate.
“We had a planned rotation for all the players to get some kids playing time. We’d rather be lucky than good,” said Barons’ coach Steve Ginder on the opportunistic run.
The de facto player of the game, Walter struck-out six batters in her seven innings of work, allowing just two hits including Michele Lopez’s single leading off the fifth. Lopez was CV’s first baserunner as Walter set the Bucks down 1-2-3 in each of the first four innings, maintaining composure even while the Baron offense had yet to break through.
“I just have to realize I can’t do everything,” Walter said. “I just have to do my thing on the mound.”
DUCKS ON THE POND
Incidentally, Lopez was stranded at third base despite a potential sacrifice fly on Makayla Horning’s deep fly to center.
“We’re going to make our mistakes,” said CV coach Larry Minney, referencing his teams four errors and occasional miscommunication on defense. “(But) I made the mistake at third… I thought the ball was gone, I thought it was going over her head and it died.”
Meanwhile, Manheim Central (1-0) had several scoring chances versus Trott, stranding runners at third base in the first, third, and fifth innings without managing to dent the plate.
“Certainly we want to be able to bring more runners in, that’s our goal,” Ginder said. “We had that opportunity, we just have to work on offense and getting hits when we need to, and a little better base-running at times.”
With the bases loaded in the fifth, Trott induced a ground ball to shortstop Karla Munoz, who rifled to the catcher Lopez for the force-out of Hahn at home. Trott struck-out the next batter to end the threat, part of her nine strikeout effort from the circle.
“That’s the first seven-inning game she’s pitched,” Minney said, referencing Trott’s season-ending Tommy John surgery prior to her freshman year. “Look how many times they had baserunners in scoring position and she hung in there and we got out of the inning. You can’t complain about what she did.”
“If we can start hitting, get some big hits…” Minney began, “I always blame some of that on cold weather. Both teams, when it’s cold, it makes it so tough on the girls out there.”
Both teams will search for more offense Wednesday, with the Barons (1-1) hosting Elizabethtown (1-1) in a night game while the Bucks (0-2) will travel to Cocalico.
Manheim Central 1, Conestoga Valley 0
MC 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 — 1 3 0
CV 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 2 4
SO-BB — MC Maddie Walter 6-0; CV Alexia Trott 9-3
WP — Maddie Walter (1-1)
LP — Alexia Trott (0-2)
XBH — none