Elco committed eight errors and surrendered home runs to Alissa Binkley and Zoee Garis in a 16-0 Annville-Cleona win on Friday.

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For further proof that anything can happen in high school softball when the ball is simply put in play, see Friday's Annville-Cleona-Elco game.

Said contest also provided additional evidence that failure to field enough of those balls put in play can lead to big, big trouble.

All of the above added up to a lopsided 16-0 five-inning victory for A-C, as it took advantage of eight Elco errors to ring up a surprisingly non-competitive mercy rule triumph in Section Three-Four crossover action at Elco Middle School.

A first-inning solo home run by Alissa Binkley and a three-run bomb off the bat of Zoee Garis in the fifth anchored the Annville-Cleona offense, but it was the Raiders' lack of defense that was the visitors' best method of run production on this day.

"Yes, we did, we put the ball in play, and that's the key," said A-C coach Dave Bentz, whose squad pulled into a first-place tie in Section Four with Pequea Valley, which fell to Donegal 4-0. "Any game, you have to put the ball in play. There's no defense for a strikeout. It's good to put the ball in play, and it's good to score some runs."

Things looked a little different from Elco's side of the diamond.  Coming off an encouraging 20-8 beat-down of Columbia on Wednesday, the Raiders never got started Friday, committing four of their eight errors in a five-run A-C top of the third that set the tone for the afternoon of defensive misadventures in Myerstown.

"I'm at a loss," said Elco coach Randy Derr, after watching his club fall to 4-7 overall and 3-6 in Section Three. "All I keep saying is we're young, we're gonna get better. I don't know what else to say. It's hard, it's frustrating. The kids are frustrated. We'll make those plays in practice, but once we get between the white lines we're like a deer in the headlights."

It began innocently enough, with Binkley's round-tripper the only difference between the teams for the first two innings.

But that changed in the third as A-C (8-3, 7-2 Section Four) batted around with Elco's help, using an RBI single from Hannah Fischer and the aforementioned four errors to take control for good.

Run-scoring singles from Amber Rexrode and Sarah Fischer followed in a three-run fourth, and three more Elco defensive miscues led to seven A-C runs on just two hits in the fifth, one of which was Garis' three-run rope to right.

"It's just like we forget what we're doing," Derr said, searching for an explanation. "And we're not talking, either, just not communicating. I'd like to turn the clock ahead a year; hopefully we'll be better. All we can do is keep working."

And for A-C, the trick is to keep swinging, literally and figuratively, as it looks to provide consistent offense for A-C ace Emma Lerchen, who fired a five-inning three-hit gem while allowing singles to Amaya Phillips, Beth Wiczalkowski and Maddie Groy.

"We've been on that end, too," Bentz said of Elco's defensive struggles. "I know what he (Derr) is going through. They're young. We just try to keep our kids upbeat and make the plays. But it's a lot easier when you get a lot of runs."

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