The Annville-Cleona softball team has endured two lopsided losses to begin the season, but first-year head coach Melvin Dorta believes better days are ahead.
ANNVILLE - Well, at least it's still early.
Otherwise, the Annville-Cleona softball team might be inclined to be a little depressed about the start to its 2017 season.
But despite an 0-2 beginning that includes last week's 11-1 loss to Tulpehocken and Monday's 10-2 defeat at the hands of arch rival Pequea Valley in a Section 4 opener, first-year head coach Melvin Dorta is optimistic that A-C will find its way to better days - and better results - in the not-too-distant future.
"It's early, this is only two games," Dorta said following the setback to Pequea. "I have confidence in my girls. They're a good group of girls, a lot of talent. They're just adapting to a new coach. They showed a lot more today - a lot more hits and a lot more concentration on what they need to do. It's gonna take a little time. I'm not worried at all."
Any hopes Annville-Cleona had of grabbing its first win Monday were pretty much dashed in the top of the 2nd, when the defending Section 4 champs jumped on sophomore pitcher Kaila Grubb for five runs, an outburst that would put the Braves in control to stay.
RBI hits from Sierra Glick and Naomi Feister and a sacrifice fly from Makenzie Dienner keyed the big inning, as did two very costly A-C errors that sent the inning from bad to worse for the home team.
"This is probably the third or fourth time we've been outside. We haven't been outside much," Dorta said. "It's not an excuse, but it takes time. It's like spring training for baseball. It's gonna take time, but again, they're a great group of girls and I'm happy and proud to be coaching them."
A-C is not lacking in talent, with 7 starters back from last season's Lancaster-Lebanon League and District 3 AA playoff qualifier. And it did show some glimpses of what could be on Monday, tagging Pequea ace Sabrina Ryan for eight hits and putting at least one runner on in every inning but the fifth.
Sophomore center fielder Lauren Schrader and senior second baseman Sarah Fischer led the way at a pair of singles each, and senior catcher Amber Rexrode slammed an RBI single in the sixth to plate Fischer with A-C's first run. In addition, senior first baseman Michaela Singer singled and scored the Dutchmen's final run in the seventh.
"We haven't seen much live pitching, but they're waking up," Dorta said of A-C's bats. "It's like everything else, it's gonna take a little bit until they wake up. And then it's contagious and then they'll be fine."
Pequea Valley 10, Annville-Cleona 2
Pequea Valley 050 023 0 - 10 13 0
Annville-Cleona 000 001 1 - 2 8 3
WP: Sabrina Ryan; LP: Kaila Grubb
SO-BB: PV - Ryan (7 IP, 13 K, 2 BB), AC: Grubb (7 IP, 3 K, 2 BB)
2B; PV - DiLuzio, AC - Shaak