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FREDERICKSBURG - Throughout a resurgent, feel-good 12-win season, the Northern Lebanon softball team proved itself to be of postseason caliber.

And then when the time came for that playoff appearance the Vikings earned, everything went haywire.

Well, not everything.But Northern Lebanon was unable to put its best foot forward in Tuesday's District 3 Class 4A opener against West York, committing six errors in the field as well as some ill-timed mental mistakes in a season-ending 14-7 loss at Northern Lebanon High School.

After getting the jump with a run in the bottom of the first on an RBI triple by Emma Kelliher, the roof pretty much fell in on Northern Lebanon. Most notably, in West York's four-run third and decisive seven-run sixth inning outburst, which came after Northern Lebanon pulled to within 6-4 in the bottom of the fifth.

The outcome ends seventh-seeded Northern Lebanon's season  at 12-9, while No. 10 West York moves on to Thursday's quarterfinal round against No. 2 Kennard-Dale.

"Not the way to start district play, huh? Unless you have a vacation planned," NL coach Ed Spittle said, his sense of humor intact. "(Monday) I thought we had one of our best days of practice. I don't know if we took them lightly, but they came to play and took the play away from us. I don't really think they're a better club, but when you give four or five outs an inning you don't give yourself a chance."

West York more than earned its run production with 15 hits off Viking starter Mel Showers and reliever Kelliher, but by the same token NL was way too generous with its help, committing two fielding gaffes in the third and two more in the sixth.

Katelyn Dellinger led the Bulldog offense with two hits and four RBIs, and Emily Dellinger added four hits and three RBIs.

To make matters worse, West York scored its first two runs in the sixth via wild pitches. Yeah, it was a little ugly at times.

"They get the benefit of that," Spittle said, when asked if Tuesday's struggles would be a learning experience for his senior-less squad. "And that's what I was hoping. It was nice that we made it, but you want to continue. I really think kids grow up and learn in the postseason, faster than they do in the regular season."

 

The good news is it wasn't all bad news for the Vikings. Freshmen 1-2 hitters Hannah Bashore and Taylor Douple combined for seven hits and four runs scored, and Kelliher, Sydney Mengel and Kaylee Mauser added two hits apiece to NL's own 16-hit attack.

"We had our chances. We had plenty of chances," Spittle said. "And we cashed in some. But we just beat ourselves. Sometimes, youth gets exposed."

But youth also was served this season, and should continue to be as Northern Lebanon goes forward. But this one will sting for a little while.

"I said to them, 'Unfortunately, this taste is gonna be in your mouth for a while," Spittle said. '"You're not gonna come out tomorrow and the next day and get rid of it.

"But I'm very proud of them and very happy with what we accomplished. If somebody would have said to me you're gonna be 12-8 and in districts at the beginning of the year I would have hugged them and given them a prize." 

West York 14, Northern Lebanon 7
West York 015 007 1 - 14 15 1
Northern Lebanon 100 033 0 - 7 16 6

WP: Ilyes, LP: Showers
SO-BB: WY - Ilyes (7 IP, 1 K, 1 BB), NL: Showers (5 IP, 2 K, 2 BB), Kelliher (2 IP, 0 K, 1 BB)
2B: WY - K. Dellinger
3B: NL - Bashore, Kelliher

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