QUARRYVILLE — Fence or no fence, there was no doubt about it.
Her team leading by four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, Solanco sophomore Liz Mowrer entered the batters’ box with the bases loaded, and taking a liking to the first pitch she saw, she launched it into the muggy air in deep left field for a game-clinching grand slam.
With the ensuing 8-1 win, the Golden Mares (14-4 overall, 13-3 Section Two) likewise clinched the section title over Elizabethtown on what was Solanco’s senior night.
Veterans Bekah Borcky, Kalyn Burger, Cait Armstrong, and Sydney Sturgill all benefitted from Mowrer’s offense and seven strong innings in the circle from freshman Hanna Phillips to pick up the momentous win.
“Today, we came out, we were super cool, super confident,” Borcky stated after the game. “Last game of the regular season, we knew exactly what our capability can be and we executed.”
Hits by Sturgill, Borcky, and Abby Heidelbaugh plated a run off Etown lefty Lauren Allison for a 4-0 advantage, before a walk to Armstrong proceeded Mowrer’s decisive blast.
“She threw it (the changeup) to me the last time we played,” Mowrer explained. “I struck out on it and I had it in the back of my mind. I definitely had to wait on it.”
The hit soared over left fielder Payton Halbleib’s head and rolled well beyond the foul pole, potentially clearing the would-be fence had Solanco’s field contained one.
“I like no fence, I like it open because it makes it more interesting,” Mowrer said. “Definitely more exciting.”
As it was, the hit easily cleared the bases, Mowrer (3-for-4, 4RBI) gunning around third as shortstop Emily Brubaker took the relay throw. Head coach Brett Miller kept waiving her around, with Mowrer touching the plate as the throw went wide.
“They (my teammates) were definitely excited to say the least,” the sophomore said. “It just made Hanna more comfortable on the mound and had her pitch her game.”
Borcky, whose reliable catching has helped ease Phillips (6K, 2BB) into the starting role this season, threw-out a pair of Etown baserunners while the score was still close, saving at least one run, possibly two.
In the second inning, Etown’s Nicole Baker (2-for-2, walk) was caught at third, Borcky to Burger, preceding a single by Mackenzie Peters. Then in the fourth, Borcky gunned-down Kirsten Mumma at second base moments before Baker and Brubaker lined successive singles to the outfield.
“Keeping runners off is huge (against Etown),” Borcky explained. “It keeps them down and puts us all the way back up when we’re getting back in the dugout.”
Borcky led off the first inning with a nine-pitch at-bat culminating in a hit-by-pitch, which was key after a two-out error plated an early run and Burger followed with a double off the glove of a diving Mumma in right center for a 3-0 lead.
“I think it showed the maturity all around,” Miller said of the win. “They (the players) looked more calm at the end than the last time we played them. You have to take advantage of mistakes and that’s what was happening.”
Both teams get to continue their seasons Saturday morning in the L-L League quarterfinals, with Etown facing the Section Four champion (TBD) at 9 a.m. and Solanco hosting the Section Four runner-up at 11:15 a.m.
Solanco 8, Elizabethtown 1
ET 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 — 1 09 2
SL 3 0 0 5 0 0 x — 8 11 1
SO-BB — ET Lauren Allison 2-2; SL Hanna Phillips 6-2
WP — Phillips; LP — Allison
2B — SL 1 (Kalyn Burger)
HR — SL 1 (Liz Mowrer)