Apparently, three is company for the trio of Lancaster-Lebanon League teams advancing into the PIAA Quarterfinals.
And two may yet be a crowd in Triple-A, with Lampeter-Strasburg (District 3 AAA third-place) and Donegal (District 3 AAA champion) staring across opposite ends of the bracket.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The following preview breaks down Thursday’s quarterfinal matchups for L-S and Donegal, as well as District 3 AA runner-up Pequea Valley.
PEQUEA VALLEY versus District 11 champion Pine Grove at Lyons Park, Fleetwood, 4 p.m.
HOW THEY GOT HERE:
Pine Grove (21-6) has won four straight since falling to Single-A power Williams Valley in the Schuylkill League championships, slipping past St. Basil’s 2-1 in 11 innings on Monday.
Pequea Valley (17-7) bested Conwell-Egan 1-0 on Monday.
Pequea Valley junior ace Sabrina Ryan (15-7, 1.21 era), who leads the L-L with a near-record 275 strikeouts this season, versus a Pine Grove lineup that has struck-out just 67 times entering the state tournament.
PINE GROVE STATS:
The Cardinals’ underclassmen-laden offense boasts three players with 0.400-plus batting averages, including junior Mackenzie Hasenauer (0.468, 1 HR), junior Jen Kaufman (0.424, 39 runs), and freshman Katelyn Rittenbaugh (0.417, 27 runs).
Pine Grove counts sophomore Faith Sleva (0.297, 20 RBI), sophomore Caitlyn Becher (0.366, 20R), and freshman Trish Kopinetz (0.278, 24 RBI) as its top RBI producers.
Pine Grove’s top pitcher is freshman Liv Lehman (17-6, 2.46 era).
LAMPETER-STRASBURG versus District 11 champion Bangor at Lyons Park, Fleetwood, 6 p.m.
HOW THEY GOT HERE:
Winners of 13 straight, including Colonial League and District 11 titles, Bangor (23-2) ripped District 3 champ Jersey Shore 10-2 on Monday for the first state tournament victory in program history.
Lampeter-Strasburg (24-2) knocked off District 1 champ Villa Maria 3-2 on Monday on the strength of a three-run first inning.
Each team possesses a speedy sister act in the Garbers of Lampeter-Strasburg and the Kesslers of Bangor.
Yet junior Nikki Kessler (0.406, 30 runs, 13 walks, 15-for-15 stolen bases) and sophomore Lexi Kessler (0.343, 27 runs, 16 walks, 30-for-31 stolen bases), daughters of coach Rick Kessler, are only part of what makes the Slaters’ offense go.
Bangor’s veteran lineup is batting a robust 0.392 with 50 doubles and 13 homeruns over 23 official games — two Slater victories came via forfeit.
In the middle is Slaters’ junior first baseman Dani Fey, who is hitting 0.522 with five doubles, four triples, and seven homeruns in amassing 42 RBIs and 30 runs scored.
Junior Ciarrah Holmqvist (0.507, 30 runs) and senior Ally Shook (0.410, 23 RBI) provide additional bang for Bangor, while senior Erin Happel (16-1, 1.12 era) handles the pitching duties.
DONEGAL versus District 7 runner-up West Allegheny at Mt. Aloysius College, Cresson, 5 p.m.
HOW THEY GOT HERE:
Ranked 13th in the state according to MaxPreps.com, West Allegheny (20-2) responded to a run-rule loss in the WPIAL championship by nipping District 6 champ Punxsutawney 3-2 on Monday, becoming another first-time winner in the state tourney.
Donegal, meanwhile, run-ruled District 12 runner-up Nueva Esperanza Academy in four innings, 15-0.
Young Indians versus young Indians. West Allegheny, which starts five sophomores in its lineup, is on a bit of a playoff roll after an early blow-out loss in last year’s District 7 tournament. Donegal counters with its steady, and perhaps more experienced, sophomore-junior collaboration.
WEST ALLEGHENY NOTES:
The Indians start Ashley Seamon (15-1) in the pitcher’s circle, the sophomore striking-out four and allowing seven hits in Monday’s contest. The lineup has benefited from Mackenzie Partyka’s post-season resurgence at the plate, benefiting not only from a double in Monday’s game but a pair of postseason homers in doubling her season total.
Seamon (0.386), Partyka (4 HRs, 23 RBIs), and Lexi Cogis (0.462 avg) are the top producers in the Indians’ lineup.