It was a roller coaster week for the Annville-Cleona girls’ softball team that did not end quite as it had hoped, after Solanco scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to hand the Little Dutchmen a 3-1 loss in the Lancaster-Lebanon Softball Tournament quarterfinals at Garrett Park on Saturday.
A-C came into the L-L opener as co-champions of Section Four due to their Friday night playoff for the Section title with Pequea Valley being rained out. It entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed from the section after losing the tie-breaker to the Braves.
“It went down to the fourth criteria,” said Little Dutchmen coach Dave Bentz. “It was basically percentage points in the playoff rankings and they had a 1/100th percent over us so they got to play the second seed.”
But that didn’t deter Bentz’s team in the least. The Little Dutchmen got on the board in the top of the first inning when leadoff batter Morgan Zimmerman reached base on a single and eventually was scored by a RBI double from Amber Rexrode.
A-C was unable to add to their lead as Golden Mules freshman pitcher Hanna Phillips recorded 11 strikeouts through the remainder of the game.
“She throws a riser and we love the riser, but we can’t hit the riser,” Bentz said.
Meanwhile the Little Dutchmen ace Emma Lerchen was relying on her teammates to make the plays when Solanco’s batters made contact, and that worked out just fine for five innings. The Golden Mules also stranded 10 runners on base, including leaving the bases loaded in back-to-back innings in the second and third.
The bottom of the fourth inning saw A-C’s defense come up huge as Kate Sheaffer bunted her way to first and advanced to second on Bekah Borcky’s bunt, which Ally Binkley fielded and sent to Lauren Schrader for the out at first. Morgan Zimmerman then secured the second out.The final out of the inning came after the ball was hit to left field, where it was fielded by Michaela Singer, who made a perfect throw to the plate to nail Sheaffer.
The teams were both kept off the scoreboard until the magic ran out for the Little Dutchmen in the sixth. Two consecutive singles for Solanco set up Borcky’s two-run triple.
“It was crunch time and those are the moments I actually wait for,” Borkcy said. “I just saw the ball and I was swinging with all the strength in me.”
The Golden Mules would tack on another run to seal the win.
“Every inning they had runners on but we can’t keep continually giving chances every inning," Bentz said. "It came back and eventually backfired.”
Annville-Cleona now has a few days off before opening the District 3 AA tournament against Pequea Valley May 26.
Solanco will take on the winner of the Lampeter-Strasburg/Hempfield game in the L-L tournament semifinals on Monday.