Like the countless orders for ice cream during this week’s hot weather, many of the Lancaster-Lebanon League’s finest softball teams dished-up second helpings in the opening week of the District 3 tournament.
The L-L’s unprecedented success didn’t end after Tuesday’s first round; five teams across three brackets remain in title-contention through Thursday’s quarterfinals, with the L-L clinching at least three berths in the state tournament beginning June 6.
The following cross-inning summary offers a condensed look at how the L-L parlayed eight tournament berths — Garden Spot, Donegal, Lampeter-Strasburg, and Penn Manor at home and Manheim Central, Elizabethtown, Solanco, and Hempfield on the road — into a show-stopping first-round.
TUESDAY TIMELINE (4:30 p.m.)
1ST INNING — At Garden Spot, Berks County stalwart Twin Valley leaves runners on second and third as a strikeout by Spartan pitcher Taylor Martin and a diving catch by shortstop Sydney Nichols ends the early threat.
In the bottom of the inning, Martin leads off with a triple and Brandi Clark knocks in two runs with a double, later scoring on an error for a 3-0 lead.
2ND INNING — At Donegal, Dover rallies for three runs in the top of the inning off Indians’ ace Makyla Yoder. At Central Dauphin, meanwhile, Solanco takes a 1-0 lead over the Rams on Sydney Sturgill’s RBI single.
In the bottom of the inning, Donegal responds with two runs to climb to within 3-2. At Lampeter-Strasburg, the top-seeded Pioneers pressure James Buchanan for three errors, breaking a 1-1 tie with four runs and a 5-1 lead. And north of Route 30, Garden Spot takes a commanding 8-0 lead with five runs versus the Raiders.
3RD INNING — At Central York, Hempfield takes the lead over the Panthers with a pair of runs, including Gabi Turner’s RBI double. Twin Valley scores three versus Garden Spot with a pair of triples to close to within 8-3.
Far away in Millersville, Penn Manor takes a 3-1 lead over Waynesboro in the bottom of the third as Dani Wright scores on an error and Brittany Hook drops a homerun over the left-field fence. At Cumberland Valley, a two-run homerun off the bat of Katie Wingert puts Elizabethtown in a 4-0 hole.
4TH INNING — Two more runs by Donegal answers a single run by Dover, knotting the score at five-all, in what was only the second-wildest game of the day.
5TH INNING — At Susquehannock, Manheim Central maintains a scoreless tie as Barons’ ace Maddie Walter strands the bases loaded. At Garden Spot, Martin’s three-run homer extends the Spartans’ lead to 12-3. And Donegal again scores a pair, taking the lead, 7-5, over Dover.
6TH INNING — Hempfield puts away Central York on Kara Cook’s two-run single while Knights’ ace Lauren Lichtenwalner shuts out the Panthers on four hits. Dover scores a run to close to within 7-6 versus Donegal, but Yoder and the Indians lock down the win with a scoreless seventh.
At L-S, the Pioneers close out their 7-3 win with a run on Bri Garber’s double in the bottom of the sixth, pitcher Jordan Weaver finishing with a complete-game three-hitter.
7TH INNING — Waynesboro tallies five runs off Hook to even-up the Comets, 6-6. At Garden Spot, Twin Valley plates a pair of runs, but Martin and the Spartans prevail, 12-5. At CV, Jen Hanshaw completes the shutout of Etown on just four hits—two from Kirsten Mumma—ending the Bears’ season, 5-0.
Back at Central Dauphin, Solanco’s Abby Heidelbaugh cuts down a runner at the plate in the bottom of the seventh as the Mares hold on for a thrilling 1-0 upset.
EXTRAS — In the eighth, Penn Manor’s Samantha Duplissey launches a two-run blast to left-center for the 8-6 walk-off over Waynesboro.
And finally, Manheim Central breaks through at Susquehannock with a pair of ninth-inning runs, highlighted by Codi Bollinger’s double. Walter then strands the tying run on second as the Barons upset Susky, 2-1.
Penn Manor held off a huge comeback by Waynesboro when Samantha Duplissey hit a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the eight inning to push the Comets into the second round of the District 3 Class AAAA softball playoffs on Tuesday, May 24, 2016. Video by John Buffone.
Having reached the PIAA state playoffs for the first time a year ago, Penn Manor went for two this season and reached the goal. In microcosm, Garden Spot entered this year’s playoffs without a district win; the Spartans have since won twice.
On the individual level, the Comets’ Hook joined the ranks of the 500K club with two early strikeouts on Thursday.
But she wasn’t the only L-L hurler to clear a major hurdle. With 16 strikeouts over Littlestown, the Pioneers’ Weaver broke the 700K plateau in her illustrious career.
And lastly, when Pequea Valley advanced past rival Annville-Cleona Thursday, Sabrina Ryan notched 12 strikeouts to take over second place on the single-season chart with 240. Ryan needs seven more strikeouts — albeit against AA top-seed Brandywine Heights next Tuesday — to reach 400 for her career.
1. Lampeter-Strasburg (22-1) — District 3 Triple-A Semifinalist. GRADE: A+
3. Garden Spot (14-7) — District 3 Triple-A Semifinalist. GRADE: A+
3. Penn Manor (21-3) — District 3 Quad-A Semifinalist. GRADE: A
4. Hempfield (17-6) — Lost to powerhouse Lower Dauphin in the Quad-A Quarterfinals. GRADE: A
5. Pequea Valley (15-6) — District 3 Double-A Semifinalist. GRADE: A
6. Donegal (18-5) — District 3 Triple-A Semifinalist. GRADE: A
7. Solanco (17-6) — Lost to Penn Manor in the Quad-A Quarterfinals. GRADE: A
8. Manheim Central (15-7) — Lost to Donegal in the Triple-A Quarterfinals. GRADE: A
Hempfield’s district playoff run ended Thursday night after falling, 7-3 to the no. 4 seeded Lower Dauphin. Video by John Buffone.
EXTRA CREDIT — Congratulations to Hempfield, Solanco, and Manheim Central, as well as Elizabethtown and Annville-Cleona, on terrific seasons.