SOFTBALL: Donegal steamrolls into state quarterfinals
ANNVILLE - It wasn't exactly a forfeit, but a run-rule victory will do.
One day after the Donegal baseball squad moved on to the PIAA State quarterfinals via forfeit, the Lady Indians' softball team followed suit with a 15-0, four-inning victory over the Frankford Lady Pioneers Wednesday afternoon at Lebanon Valley College, likewise advancing to the State quarterfinal round.
The District 3 champion Lady Indians (26-3) will face Bellwood-Antis (17-6) on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at Big Spring High School.
While the Lady Blue Devils, champions of District 6, advanced via a 1-0 victory versus Yough on Monday, the Lady Indians' contest with District 12 runner-up Frankford (6-7) was postponed twice due to heavy rain.
The result is a quick turnaround for Donegal as they seek to advance to the State semifinals for the first time since 2008.
"I think our team can handle it," said winning pitcher Makyla Yoder, who threw three shutout innings and contributed a pair of RBI singles in the win. "People have been saying that but I think we'll be fine, we're loose. We definitely have to be focused tomorrow, it's a whole different ball game. We need to get fired-up."
Donegal was able to put three runs on the board early against Frankford pitcher Moriah Cedeno, whose pitches were a cross between traditional fast-pitch and slow-pitch softball.
Still, a leadoff double by Savanna Kolenda, a walk, an RBI groundout, and RBI singles to left by Yoder and Kaitlyn Witmer provided all the runs the Lady Indians would need versus a raw opponent.
"Give them credit for coming down and playing," said Donegal head coach Wayne Emenheiser. "I thought their kids played with a little bit of heart and had some fun and that's all you can ask of them."
"They were excited, they were having fun no matter the score and that's what it's all about," Yoder said. "I liked that."
Having fun was a little difficult to do for either side as a few unorthodox calls by the third-base umpire, including a handful of illegal pitches against both pitchers, derailed the action. Things came to a head when a Frankford player was ejected in the top of the third inning for removing her helmet in the field of play after what she thought was strike three.
Ironically, it was an illegal pitch call that negated the strikeout; still, it resulted in the player's removal and a pinch-hitter came on to finish off the at-bat, ultimately becoming Yoder's fourth and final strike-out victim.
"You can't control umpires and their calls, but you can control how you respond. I tried not to let it get to me and just zone it out," said Yoder, whose throw to first after an illegal pitch call had more mustard on it than ketchup.
"I was a little fired-up," Yoder admitted, with a subtle tip of her visor.
By that time, Donegal had already built a 10-0 lead as the Lady Indians sent eleven to the plate in the bottom of the second, Rachel Robinson and Yoder driving in two runs apiece. Natalie Orr singled in another before Erin Tirko laced an RBI triple and Peighton Hornick brought in Tirko with a double to cap the inning.
After Mackenzie Bedwell pitched a 1-2-3 top of the fourth inning, the Lady Indians finished off the run-rule win with five runs on seven hits, including back-to-back doubles by Rachael Overlander and Tirko. Run-scoring singles by Kathryn Rineer and Rachel Mummau ended the game, with Donegal using up its entire bench.
"We did what we had to do. That's basically how we're going to look at it," Emenheiser said. "We wanted to make sure everybody got to play today so they all could say they played in a state game. We're moving on, that's all that matters."
After all, when it comes to the PIAA State tournament, simply any win will do.
Girls' High School Softball
PIAA First Round
Donegal 15, Frankford 0 (4 innings)
FFD 0 0 0 0 - 00 03 02
DON 3 7 0 5 - 15 15 00
WP-M. Yoder; LP-M. Cedeno
K-BB-Cedeno (3.1IP, 0K, 3BB, 1HB) and R. Bynum; Yoder (3IP, 4K, 0BB), M. Bedwell (1IP, 2K, 0BB) and R. Mummau
2B-S. Kolenda, E. Tirko, P. Hornick, R. Overlander