Seventh-inning rally lifts Cocalico past Lady Mounts

By on March 28, 2018
Cocalico’s Stephanie Kochel (right) slides into second base ahead of the tag of Ephrata shortstop Cadie Fry Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Travis Boyd

Cocalico’s Stephanie Kochel (right) slides into second base ahead of the tag of Ephrata shortstop Cadie Fry Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Travis Boyd

In taking over a 5-11 team from a year ago, first-year Cocalico Coach Dave Dunkelberger focused a lot of the off-season on changing the collective mindset of his team, teaching them how to persevere through tough situations.

Turns out, they were paying attention.

Tuesday afternoon at Ephrata, his Lady Eagles were put to the test, having to twice overcome one-run deficits and saw a late two-run lead evaporate. Still, with the game on the line late, the Lady Eagles came through big time, delivering a pair of key two-run innings late to earn a 6-4 non-league victory over the Lady Mounts in the opener for both squads.

“Perseverance is what we preach,” Dunkelberger said following the win. “That’s what we teach our girls every single at bat, every single pitch…it’s how you persevere. If you make a mistake, we need you to persevere and move on from that. If something is not going your way, it’s how you move on and persevere from that point that matters.”

Senior Faith Stoltzfoos came up with the two biggest at bats of the night. It was her lead-off triple in the top of the sixth that sparked a two-run inning and gave Cocalico a 4-2 lead. Then in the seventh, after Ephrata tied it with a two spot of its own in the bottom of the sixth, Stoltzfus delivered what turned out to be the game-winning hit.

“You can’t ask for a better leader than Faith Stoltzfoos,” Dunkelberger said. “For the past five months, she has been nothing short of spectacular for this team. And for her to do what she did in the very first game of the season…she hit that triple and really stretched it to third. She went on her own out of instinct, and you can’t teach someone who has that kind of aggressive instinct. She and (pitcher) Kylie Armstrong led us to victory today.”

Armstrong went the distance, striking out nine Ephrata batters while not issuing a walk the entire day, despite playing the game in a cold drizzle.

“She was just pounding the plate, pounding the plate,” Dunkelberger said. “She kept Ephrata just enough off-balance that we could play solid defense behind her. That’s what helped us get through there.”

Early on, Ephrata pitcher Lexi Reinhold (6 Ks, 4 BBs) pitched out of a bases-loaded, one out situation in the top of the first. And that seemed to spark the Lady Mounts as they touched Armstrong for a single run in the bottom of that inning to grab a 1-0 lead.

Kandice Liebl got it started when she reached on a two-out error. She then came all the way around to score from first on Riley Simmons’ RBI hit to centerfield.

Cocalico though tied it in the top of the second when Karlie Heft led off with a hit and eventually came around to score from third later in the inning when Stephanie Kochel, who went 3-for-3 on the day, beat out an infield hit with two outs.

Cadie Fry put Ephrata back in front 2-1 with an RBI single in the bottom of the third, which scored teammate Alyssa Meier who singled earlier. But the Lady Eagles knotted it back up at 2-2 in the top of the fourth on another two-out RBI hit from Kochel.

That set the stage for the sixth, when Stoltzfoos lashed a ball to the gap in right-center that she stretched into a triple to start the frame. She would come around to score the go-ahead run one batter later on a passed ball. Cocalico would then tack on an insurance run later in the inning when Isabella Kohl singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch to give the Lady Eagles a 4-2 advantage.

But, Ephrata showed some perseverance of its own, rallying for a pair of runs to knot the game again in the bottom of the inning. Liebl reached base to lead off the frame, and went first to third on Simmons’ bloop single to center.

One out later, Liebl scored on Reinhold’s RBI ground out. Then, Simmons tied it later when a third strike got to the backstop, allowing batter Victoria McPeek to reach first and Simmons to come home with the equalizer.

But as stated above, Cocalico would take the lead for good in the top of the seventh after Jenna Eberly reached on an error to start off the frame. After a single by Lydia Best, Stoltzfoos legged out an infield hit to the right side, allowing Eberly to score the go-ahead run. Best then made it 6-4, scoring on a fielder’s choice.

In the seventh, Armstrong got the first two batters before Fry lined back to the pitcher to close things out.

Simmons paced Ephrata’s seven-hit attack, going 2-for-3 with an RBI. Cocalico pounded out 10 hits offensively. In addition to Kochel and Stoltzfoos, shortstop Heft also had multiple hits, finishing 2-for-4.

“Getting your first win, especially against a rival like Ephrata, especially when you come back and show we have that ‘never quit’ mentality…these girls worked their butt off all off-season and now you saw a little bit of what is in store for their future,” Dunkelberger said.

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