The Comets held on to defeat Donegal, 1-0 in the opening round of the L-L Softball Tournament on Saturday, May 14, 2016. Courtesy of LLLeagueVideos.com
WILLOW STREET — The game between Section Three runner-up Donegal and Section One champion Penn Manor was frustrating for both teams involved.
Both teams had to deal with an hour-long weather delay.
Penn Manor had to face a dominant effort from Indians’ ace Makyla Yoder, while Comets’ pitcher Brittany Hook had to deal with a lot of baserunners. Like, fourteen of them.
And most painfully, the Indians had to walk away knowing that none of those baserunners scored.
Pam Perez tripled and scored the game’s only run in the bottom of the first inning, Hook wormed her way around six hits, five walks, and three errors, and the Penn Manor Comets miraculously prevailed 1-0 over defending league champion Donegal in the last of four quarterfinal games Saturday at Garrett Field.
“Donegal is a great team, and I knew that we were going to come in here having to challenge,” said an emotionally and physically drained Hook, having tossed 140 pitches in the effort. “I knew I had to be focused and our team had to be focused.”
The Indians loaded the bases with two outs in the first inning on a tough-hop error, a hard single off the bat of Yoder, and a walk to power-hitter Natalie Orr. But Hook ended the threat with a strikeout of Kaitlyn Witmer.
Perez immediately helped the Comets (18-2) to the lead, tripling on the first pitch she saw to the gap in right center (it was the junior transfer’s third triple in her last two games and fifth overall), scoring on a jam-shot grounder off the bat of Dani Wright (2-for-3, RBI).
“(Perez) is basically the reason why we’re doing as well as we are,” Hook stated matter-of-factly. “I can’t say enough about her. She’s really come to our team and made a huge difference. She swings so hard and just lets the ball go, and it’s amazing. I love it.”
PLAYING WITH FIRE
The Indians (16-5) loaded the bases in the third inning on singles by Savanna Kolenda (2-for-4) and Morgan Biesecker and a one-out walk to Yoder, Hook forcing an infield fly and again striking-out Witmer, who sported a 0.455 average entering the contest.
All the while that Yoder was shutting down the Comets’ lineup, Hook and the Donegal batters were battling each other, as well as a strike-zone that left both sides wanting.
Following a pair of errors in the fourth, leaving runners on second and third with one out, Hook struck-out Kolenda and Biesecker looking, both on borderline calls.
In the fifth she loaded the bases with no outs. Witmer lined a fielder’s choice to shortstop Julia Tappany. Then Emily Graham lofted a shallow pop over shortstop that fell between Tappany and left-fielder Bri Wood-Hickey.
But Tappany made arguable the play of the game, grabbing the ball at the fringe of the grass and tossing home to catcher Sam Duplissey for the force out. A foul-out to Tappany behind the third-base bag ended the threat.
“I was just focusing so much, just to hit my spots and to make pitches because making pitches gets those popups, gets those grounders where my fielders can make those plays,” said Hook.
After a relatively easy sixth, Hook walked Yoder (1-1, 3BB) to lead off the seventh. A sacrifice bunt moved courtesy runner Dominique Cressler to second base before Witmer worked a walk and Cressler moved to third on a passed ball.
Witmer took the open bag at second, and on a 1-1 count, Emily Graham followed with a squeeze bunt attempt that seemed destined to tie the score. Hook’s pitch ran away from the bat, however, with Cressler scrambling to get back to third base.
Hook proceeded to strikeout Graham on a high changeup, before a pop-up to second base ended the eventful afternoon.
ON TO THE SEMIS
Monday’s semifinals, back at Garrett Park, open with the Comets — playing with the stress of never having won a championship, according to Hook — hosting Elizabethtown at 5:30 p.m., followed by Hempfield-Solanco at 7:30 p.m.
But first, there’s a day in-between for teams, fans, and players to take a reprieve from all the lingering stress.
“I’m just really tired,” Hook admitted. “It’s been a long day, I was up early and having that delay didn’t help at all. I’m ready to go to bed.”
Penn Manor 1, Donegal 0
DN 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 6 0
PM 1 0 0 0 0 0 x — 1 5 3
SO-BB — DN Makyla Yoder 9-0; PM Brittany Hook 7-5
WP — Hook; LP — Yoder
3B — PM 1 (Pam Perez)