Although every team in the L-L has earned its share of recognition this season, not every team is awarded the opportunity to play in the league tournament.
As the theory goes, if the-powers-that-be let everybody in, then the regular season becomes obsolete. Fitting, therefore, that quite a few coaches and players were able to make the most of the last week of the regular season, whether by maneuvering themselves up the final standings or simply by getting in some extra playing time.
Taking a temporary hiatus from the playoff bustle, here are some thoughts on Week Seven of the L-L softball slate.
THIRD IN FOURTH
When Lancaster Catholic traveled to Lancaster Mennonite High School Thursday for an away game versus the Blazers, it seemed at first an opportunity for a feel-good ending to a pair of otherwise middling seasons out of Section Four.
But as the effort of all the players on each team showed, part of having fun is embracing good competition.
“This is one we thought we could win,” said Blazers’ head coach Terry Shreiner after his team dropped an 8-4 decision to the visiting Crusaders. “We’d played five real solid games in a row, we thought we could win this last one.”
Indeed, things started out well for Mennonite, with lone senior Lindsey White (3-for-4, 2R) sparking the offense. And when Chloe King (2-for-3, R) brought home White in the bottom of the second inning on the first of her two doubles, the Blazers had themselves a 3-2 lead.
But Catholic tied the score in the third inning, then batted around in the fifth for an 8-3 advantage. Senior Natalie Hampton picked up the win in the circle, also going 3-for-3 at the dish to pace the Crusader offense.
“(These) teams were fighting for third place and that’s big for us to finish in third after fifth place (last year),” began Crusaders’ coach Marv Adams, who was without the services of twin phenoms, Effie and Xanthe Jamanis, on Thursday.
“I was using people out of position,” Adams said. “(Today’s) shortstop had been catching for us; (today’s) catcher is a freshman so we brought her out — and this pitcher (Hampton) is not easy to catch.”
After being injured much of the year, Hampton finished off her career with five strikeouts to earn the victory, benefiting from run-scoring doubles by Victoria Reese and Alexis Feltenberger in the decisive fifth.
“If we would have had her all year long, we would have been competitive,” Adams said of his pitcher. “I’m pleased for the seniors to go out like this but other than that, I’m kind of looking forward to next year.”
THE BEST THING YOU DON’T KNOW YOU SAW
Going up against the offensive machine that is the Lampeter-Strasburg Pioneers, Manheim Central was forced to go through its stable of pitchers in what was an eventual 11-1 run-rule loss to end the regular season at Garrett Field.
But one of those pitchers wasn’t a pitcher at all. Listed as the flex player, senior Gabby Hahn was expected to rotate in and out for equitable playing time on a roster filled with athletes. But because usual pitcher Maddie Walter was incorrectly listed as the designated player, Hahn ended up starting in the circle, rather than at first base.
Was it scripted? Not sure. But at the very least Hahn’s one and only pitch floated nice and high to catcher LaChrishia Diffenderfer, avoiding any Carly Rae Jepsen comparisons for the time being.
Having snared a line drive at third and throwing to first for a double play later on in the game, I’ll leave it to you to surmise Hahn’s natural fielding position.
1. Manheim Township (10-10 overall, 3-0 week) — Great end to the season here, with upsets over Warwick and Hempfield in pitcher Reilly Gearhart’s swan-song season with the Streaks. GRADE: A+
2. Warwick (10-9 overall, 1-2 week) — The Warriors made it fun and interesting this season, likely missing out on a District 3 berth by a smidge. Whatever happened to play-in games, anyway? GRADE: A
3. Cedar Crest (9-11 overall, 0-2 week) — The Falcons drew smiles in their senior day Tuesday, culminating with a bittersweet ending to some solid careers. GRADE: A
4. Manheim Central (14-6 overall, 2-1 week) — The Barons wrapped-up a successful season in high-spirited style this week. A District 3 (Tri-A) berth awaits. GRADE: A
5. Cocalico (5-15 overall, 1-2 week) — After some early season blowouts, the Eagles came on late with respectable results, even posting a run-rule victory over Mid-Penn Keystone alum Hershey on Tuesday. GRADE: A
6. Lancaster Catholic (5-13 overall, 1-1 week) — There’s enthusiasm about this program right now, both in the games and into the offseason. GRADE: A
7. Lancaster Mennonite (6-14 overall, 2-1 week) — Having asserted themselves late in the season, the Blazers seem on the right track. GRADE: A
8. Ephrata (3-17 overall, 0-3 week) — The Mountaineers did a nice job of pushing back this week while a handful of impressive careers came to a close. GRADE: A