SOFTBALL: Warwick clinches Section One title, Lampeter-Strasburg forces Section Three playoff
LANCASTER COUNTY - In a pair of softball games that had a lot riding on their outcomes, two teams made significant statements as the L-L regular season comes to an end.
After Warwick's 5-3 victory over rival Hempfield in Landisville wrapped up the Section One title for the Lady Warriors, the Lady Pioneers of Lampeter-Strasburg took out league-unbeaten Donegal 5-1 to force a tie-breaker game in Section Three.
The victory for Warwick (15-1 L-L, 18-1 overall) came on the strength of senior Ashley Royer's bat and freshman Amanda Herr's arm, and avoids a similar tie-breaker scenario versus Hempfield (13-3, 15-5). The Lady Knights settle for second-place.
"I think the kids had a chip on their shoulder," said Warwick head coach Mark Hough, whose team's only loss this season came to Hempfield on April 8. "If they were going to go to a playoff, they were going to go down with a fight, and that's where I was really proud of my kids today as they came in and fought."
Royer (2-for-3, HR, 2B, 2R, 4RBI) took charge of things early, driving a two-run home run in the first inning off Lady Knights' starter Lauren Lichtenwalner.
"I wasn't sure (if it was going out) but it was hit pretty far," Royer said of her fifth homer of the season. "I just wanted to get a hit, get it in play, and get on base."
In the third inning, Royer struck again, this time with a two-run double that scored teammates Mack Russell and Vanessa Strohm. A single by Jo High brought Royer in to stake pitcher Herr to a 5-0 lead.
Herr finished with five strikeouts and one walk, scattering seven hits. Despite three errors, the Lady Warriors played with solid defensive poise to help keep Hempfield off the board.
In Hempfield's second time up to bat, back to back singles by Aubrey Hartman (2-for-4) and Lichtenwalner put runners on the corners and no out. But the catcher High threw out Lichtenwalner on an attempted steal of second, allowing Herr to squirm out of the inning.
In the seventh, Hempfield managed to plate a trio of runs on a couple of late errors, but all-in-all it was a solid day for the Lady Warriors, who now can rest up until Saturday for the League Quarterfinals at Garrett Park in Willow Street.
"I think it really helps us out going into playoffs as a (better-seed)," Royer said of Monday's win. "I think we'll do pretty well (Saturday), if we play like this again I think we'll do great."
Meanwhile, in the nightcap (played, incidentally, at Garrett Park), the Lady Pioneers (15-1, 17-2) and ace in the circle Jordan Weaver fought off some loud outs as Lady Indians (15-1, 18-2) looked to wrap up Section Three.
But L-S would have none of it. Weaver led off the second with a double, scoring when Delaney Baker reached on an error on a missed throw to first base. Following a sacrifice, Delaney Groff singled home her like-named teammate for the 2-0 advantage.
Meanwhile, Weaver was pumping heat from the pitching circle, keeping Donegal off the board and off the bases in the early going. Weaver struck-out seven and walked five, but allowed just two hits, the first off the bat of the Lady Indians' designated player Natalie Orr with one out in the fifth.
"I was just happy with how it turned out," Weaver said of her pitching performance. "I got into a lot of full counts, I wasn't ahead of the batters most of the time, I just had to come back on top."
The L-S junior left the bases loaded in the fifth before the Indians made things interesting in the top of the sixth. Makyla Yoder (1-for-2, BB) led off the inning with a single. A walk to Rachel Mummau and a throwing error by Weaver brought in courtesy runner Rachel Overlander for the Indians run.
But a strikeout and fly-out brought Orr to the plate with runners on second and third. The Indians' junior smoked a line drive toward the hole between first and second where second baseman Bri Garber dropped to her knees to snatch it.
"I saw it come in, my coach positioned me perfectly," said Garber, who admitted she didn't think about the situation until after she made the catch. "If I was a foot over I wouldn't have had it."
L-S put the game away with infield singles by Hannah Garber and Sara Braungard, an error by Yoder from the circle allowing Hannah Garber to score. Weaver (2-for-3, RBI) singled home Braungard while Robin Feaster brought home pinch-runner Jordyn Kondras on a squeeze bunt.
For the Indians, Yoder allowed five runs (two earned) on seven hits. The Donegal defense threw out two runners trying to stretch extra bases on long hits to center, shortstop Rachel Robinson making the relay throws to nab Baker at third in the fourth inning and Bri Garber at home in the fifth inning.
Robinson also hit a pair of deep drives to centerfield, including the final out of the contest, but each ball fell into the welcome glove of centerfielder Kate High, setting up a rubber match on Wednesday at Warwick High School, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. to determine the Section Three champion.
"It is what it is," said Indians' coach Wayne Emenheiser. "They had some big hits, Jordan got some big outs when she needed to and it was the difference in the game. Our kids always love coming down here to play, they're already looking forward to playing Wednesday. It'll be fun."
Girls' High School Softball
L-L Section One
Warwick 5, Hempfield 3
WW 2 0 3 0 0 0 0 - 05 10 3
HEM 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 - 03 07 1
WP-A. Herr; LP-L. Lichtenwalner
K-BB-Herr (7IP, 5K, 0BB) and J. High; Lichtenwalner (7IP, 6K, 2BB) and Z. Schneck
2B-WW 2 (A. Royer, N. Mengel)
HR-WW 1 (A. Royer)
Girls' High School Softball
L-L Section Three
Lampeter-Strasburg 5, Donegal 1
DON 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 - 01 02 2
LS 0 2 0 0 0 3 x - 05 07 2
WP-J. Weaver; LP-M. Yoder
K-BB-Yoder (6IP, 6K, 0BB, 1HB) and R. Mummau; Weaver (7IP, 7K, 5BB) and K. Weaver
2B-L-S 2 (J. Weaver, D. Baker)
3B-L-S 1 (B. Garber)