The Littlestown Thunderbolts had gone 10 days without playing a softball game as they entered their District 3 Class AA contest Tuesday against Pequea Valley.
Unfortunately for the Thunderbolts, the rust showed, as they committed several defensive blunders and were never able to get the bats going. Littlestown's season ended in a 15-1 loss in five innings at Elizabethtown's Community Park.
"I think we were a little rusty, a little tight," Littlestown head coach Chet Ripple said. "We tried to get some scrimmages in but were not able to pick up any. We weren't sharp tonight."
Pequea Valley (13-7) put two runs on the board in the bottom of the first, but the real damage for Littlestown came in the second. The Thunderbolts allowed back-to-back infield hits -- one of which was an infield double -- and also allowed a run to score on an illegal pitch. It was all part of a seven-run inning that gave the Braves a 9-0 lead.
"It was one of those things," Ripple said. "We always talk about the one inning we have that always bothers us. That one inning you wish you could take away and that inning came for us and bit us enough that we weren't able to come back."
The Thunderbolts looked as if they might start a rally in the top of the third when they picked up back-to-back walks to Aly Schroeder and Casey Saylor and then loaded the bases on after an error by the Pequea Valley second baseman.
Littlestown (10-9) got on the scoreboard with a Nicole Snider sacrifice fly, but couldn't score any more runs, leaving the bases loaded.
The Thunderbolts didn't give up a run in the third but struggled through another long inning in the fourth as the Braves brought 11 batters to the plate and scored six runs. Kayla Diluzio highlighted the inning with an RBI single, her third hit and fifth RBI on the day.
"The first at-bat really set the tone for the rest of the game for me," Diluzio said. "I have been struggling at the plate and have just been working on changing how I stand and the placement of my bat. In the beginning, I was really nervous. After I got two strikes on me, and hit the third pitch, I started to gain confidence for the rest of the game."
For Littlestown, the deficit was too much to overcome.
"Our goal this year was to make it to districts," Ripple said. "We wanted to qualify. We knew with a young team and young pitching that we were going to struggle. We knew we would have our ups and downs. I am still very proud of everything they have done. We had two seniors, a sophomore, and five freshmen starting."
With such a young team, Ripple said he hopes this season can be a learning experience for a team build around youth.
"My hopes for them is that they understand the meaning of making it to districts," he said. "We are going to get stronger, faster and better. I am excited."
PEQUEA VALLEY 15, LITTLESTOWN 1
Littlestown 001 00 -- 1 1 1
Pequea Valley 270 6x --15 10 1
PV, A. Houck and K. Wallace. LT- Aly Schroeder, M. Sommers (4) and N. Chilcoat. SO-BB -- Houck 3-2, Schroeder 1-6, Sommers 0-1. W -- Houck. L -- Schroeder. 2B -- Houck 3B -- PV- Houck, Wallace. Lt- Saylor