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Spring Grove softball shut out in Round 1 loss

ROBESONIA >> The handedness of Tuesday's opposing pitcher may have played a role in ending Spring Grove's softball season in the opening round of the District 3 Class AAA playoffs.

Conrad Weiser's Val Miller, a southpaw, shut out the Rockets Tuesday afternoon on three hits as her Scouts moved onto the quarterfinals with a 4-0 victory.

Spring Grove had been playing pretty decent ball just to gain the postseason. The Rockets (10-11) beat Central York and Red Lion to close the regular season, scoring a combined 23 runs, and lost a one-run contest to South Western -- a team that had clubbed them by 16 earlier in the season.

That offense dried up in Robesonia. Miller, according to head coach Mark Hull, was the first left-handed starter the Rockets had faced all season. The ball breaks differently from a lefty, spins differently and can alter timing in the batter's box if a hitter is not used to seeing it.

Hull had a strong sense that is exactly what afflicted his lineup facing Miller and the Scouts (19-3), who were the Berks League runners-up to Twin Valley.

"We are a hitting team, and we just ended up struggling against this girl," Spring Grove head coach Mark Hull said of Miller. "It was the first time we had faced a left-handed pitcher and we struggled as far as where she was throwing it. It seems we hit a lot of balls on the handle. I scouted them and showed our girls of video of (Miller) and we still struggled. She's not fast, but she's very efficient and around the plate."

Miller – the losing pitcher in last week's Berks title finale against Twin Valley -- struck out five Rockets without walking a batter.

"It was good to see a team I hadn't before and they didn't know what I was throwing yet," Miller said. "Twin Valley, they've seen us three times."

Conrad Weiser did all its damage in the third inning. The Scouts jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning, when top-of-the-card hitter Aarika Ferko launched a Julia Wivell offering deep into the gap between left and center field with a runner on base and one out. Ferko circled the bases at Weiser's fenceless yard for a two-run home run.

Following a walk and a single one out later, Amanda Schaeffer ripped a two-run single to center to double Weiser's lead. Wivell issued a pair of walks during the at-bat and both runners came around to score.

Down four, Spring Grove's best chance against Miller came in the top of the fourth.

Wivell reached on a two-out from her opposite number on a simple comebacker thrown low at first base that skipped off the glove – the only error from either team in a crisply-played ballgame.

Kasey Bentley followed with a solid double to enter, the first of two for her, and the Rockets were in business with runners at second and third. But Miller got Alex Botts to fly out to right to end the threat.

With the exception of that third frame, Wivell pitched well for the Rockets. But with the club having difficulty making decisive contact against Miller, the four-run hole proved too deep to navigate.

"Toward the end, Julia was pitching great," Hull said. "That third inning, we struggled getting those girls out.

"Overall, we lost some games that we should have won. But towards the end of the season we were playing pretty well. We beat Central and Dallastown, a pair of Quad-A schools, to get here. But today, we just didn't hit."

Conrad Weiser 4, Spring Grove 0

Spring Grove0000000—030Conrad Weiser004000x—451

SG, Julia Wivell and Caraline Corman; CW, Val Miller and Emma W Price

SO-BB — SG, Wivell 5-4. CW, Miller 5-0; W — Miller; L — Wivell; 2B — SG, Kasey Bentley 2; HR —CW, Aarika Ferko.