SOFTBALL: Donegal claims L-L title in convincing style
WILLOW STREET - For the Donegal Lady Indians, winning the Lancaster-Lebanon League title was certainly no fluke.
How they won it, however - with a 10-0, run-rule victory over Section Three rival Lampeter-Strasburg Wednesday night at Garrett Field - probably went beyond the imagination.
"It's awesome," stated winning pitcher Makyla Yoder, who helped herself with a two-run single in the first inning. "We came out and hit the ball hard and we just never stopped going and we never settled. We just kept fighting until the end."
Playing Lampeter-Strasburg (20-3) for the eighth time in two years, including the fourth time this season and third time in ten days, the common theme in the rivalry has been a low-scoring pitchers' duel between Lady Indians' sophomore Yoder and Lady Pioneers' junior ace Jordan Weaver.
"Yea, this is not expected," said head coach of the Lady Indians Wayne Emenheiser. "This is one of those games you just push to the side because next time it's going to be 2-1. It's just the way it is."
But Donegal (21-3) played-up an anomaly with three runs in the first inning, coming on Yoder's bases-loaded single off the centerfield wall, followed by junior Natalie Orr's RBI single to left-center.
"It got us more excited about the game," Orr said about taking the early lead. "We came out to our full potential tonight, didn't let up."
In the third, Weaver walked Rachel Mummau and Rachel Robinson (3 runs) just as she had done in the first inning. Yoder then reached base when second baseman Bri Garber threw high to Caroline Braungard covering second, which loaded the bases and prompted a visit to the circle by Lady Pioneers' head coach Tim Shoff.
The pause must have kept Orr waiting too long, as the Lady Indians' designated player/hitter blew the lid off the contest with a grand slam, sending Weaver's next pitch over the new-this-year, 200-foot temporary fence brought in just for the League Tournament, for her first career homerun.
"I had to come out aggressive, I couldn't wait," said Orr, downplaying the timeliness of her first round-tripper. "It was right down the middle, it was a perfect pitch."
The Indians tallied another run in the inning on Peighton Hornick's sacrifice fly as another Weaver walk came around to score. Coming off a no-hitter in the semifinals versus Warwick, Weaver had five strikeouts and seven walks Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Yoder threw three perfect innings to start the contest, allowing a pair of singles in the fourth inning and one to Weaver in the fifth. But even the Pioneers' two-hit fourth went the Indian's way as a base-running miscue on Kate High's hard single to right-center caught Hanna Garber in a run-down between second and third to end the inning and the threat.
"Hats off to Donegal, they played really well and hit the ball, made all the defensive plays, and we struggled in all parts of the game," Shoff said on the loss. "I said to (our players) 'if it was a 2-1 game, you would be a little more upset. You have to put something like this behind us and move on to next week. It wasn't our night, it was Donegal's night.' "
"Our team's mindset was just whatever happens, happens. Come out and have fun," Yoder said. "Sometimes we get our heads caught up in 'the big L-S game,' so we tried not to do that this time. We came out and treated it like any other game."
A game they nonetheless won, albeit in an improbable fashion, for Donegal's first championship since 2011.
"It's tough to win the L-L League," Emenheiser said. "Years you think you're going to win it, you don't. This year I thought we were going to be in the hunt, but you have play three good games. It was nice to see and do that."
Both Donegal and L-S have more to look forward to as the District 3 playoffs begin next week, with the Indians and Pioneers ranked 1-2 in the AAA bracket. Should both teams navigate their way to the District Title game, a familiar opponent would await.
Not that a title-game matchup between the two schools would be some sort of fluke.
"We'd like to see them later in the season, at some point in districts," Shoff said. "Hopefully we'll bring our 'A' game if we're fortunate to get that far, that night."
Girls' High School Softball
L-L League Final
Donegal 10, Lampeter-Strasburg 0
DN 3 0 5 2 0 - 10 6 0
LS 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 3 3
WP-M. Yoder; LP-J. Weaver
K-BB-M. Yoder (5IP, 1K, 0BB) and R. Mummau; J. Weaver (5IP, 5K, 7BB) and K. Weaver