Warwick cruises past Lady Mounts

By on April 15, 2015
Ephrata’s Katelyn Fisher forces the Warwick runner back to first base in Monday’s game. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Ephrata’s Katelyn Fisher forces the Warwick runner back to first base in Monday’s game. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Monday’s girls softball game between Warwick and Ephrata featured two teams moving in opposite directions.

Visiting Warwick, perhaps the surprise of the L-L League this year, kept things rolling against an Ephrata team that has been struggling lately after a promising start to the season.

The bottom line was Ephrata made plenty of mistakes Monday, and the Lady Warriors took advantage of most of them in what turned out to be a decisive 16-3 Warwick victory in five innings.

Sophomore lead-off hitting Mackenzie Russell and junior Lexi Leonard both had a pair of hits to pace the Lady Warriors’ eight-hit attack. Amanda Herr also knocked in three runs on a bases-clearing double while Warwick took advantage of 14 walks issued by Ephrata pitchers to key the easy victory.

With the win, Warwick (6-1 section, 9-1 overall) remained tied atop the Section One standings with Hempfield (6-1), which knocked off Garden Spot Monday in other Section One-Two crossover action.

“You feel bad because you never really want to do it too much,” Warwick Coach Mark Hough said in reference to the lopsided score. “But when it gets to crossover games you got to do what you got to do to try to get as many runs to not only save pitching but make it as easy as you can for your team.”

The tone was set early when a pair of Ephrata mistakes led to five Warwick runs through the first two innings.

In the top of the first, Warwick’s Vanessa Strohm and Ashley Royer drew a pair of one out walks off Ephrata starter Jenna Yarger. However, the Lady Mounts looked like they would escape without any damage when Yarger got Herr to line out to center for the second out before Nicole Mengel lofted a fly ball to right. Unfortunately for Ephrata, Mengel’s ball hung in the wind and found it’s way to the turf, allowing both Strom and Royer to come around to score.

Ephrata (2-5 Section Two, 3-7 overall) did get one run back in the bottom of the inning when Brittany Ritter’s two-out grounder to short was mishandled, allowing catcher Lexi Hershberger, who led off with a walk, to come around to score.

But Warwick plated three runs without a hit in the second to go up 5-1. Yarger, who went just two-and-a-third and surrendered seven walks with four strikeouts, walked the bases loaded but appeared she would get out of the jam without allowing a run when she struck out Strohm with two outs. However, Hershberger couldn’t handle the third strike and all runners advanced one base and Strohm made it safely to first. Yarger then walked in two straight runs before finally striking out Nicole Mengel to end the frame.

“We can’t walk 12 batters or whatever it was,” Ephrata Coach Meredith Dombach said.. You can’t give up that many free bases and stay in the game, or even play a close game.”

Warwick’s Jolyssa High and Alyssa Christi opened the third inning with a pair of singles, and one out later Rene Ross reached on an infield single to load the bases again. Yarger then walked Russell to force in a run before being replaced by fellow senior Allison Smith.

Smith (1K, 7 BB) walked the first batter she faced before Herr delivered a double down the left field line that cleared the bases and gave the Lady Warriors a commanding 10-1 lead.

Warwick plated an additional run in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Russell to make it 11-1, but Ephrata did respond with two runs in the bottom of the inning to cut it to 11-3. Lauren Shuke was hit by a pitch and Danika Weaver reached on a fielders choice. Both runners would later score on Hershberger’s two-run single to center.

But the Lady Warriors would add five more runs in the fifth on five straight walks before Leonard delivered a two-run single and Russell followed with an RBI hit.

Warwick pitcher Mengel, who went the distance striking out six and walking three while allowing just three Ephrata hits, retired the Lady Mounts in order in the fifth to close things out.

“It’s really been surprising,” Hough said of his young team’s 9-1 start. “You always come into the year and say, ‘this is what we have. How are we going to try to put everything together?’ We have just two seniors, we lost six from last year, but I think the kids are really taking on their roles. I think we are really a pretty solid hitting team. I think that’s really what helped us, and we got two really good pitchers that we can play off of so our arms are pretty healthy.

“I think we had some real timely hitting and I think we’ve really surprised a lot of people. But again we got a lot of work to do and we are not taking anybody lightly.”

As for Ephrata, which has lost by the 10-run rule in four of the last five games, the Lady Mounts will try to regroup.

“This is not what we expected,” Dombach said of her team’s struggles as of late. “Pitching is pretty much one of our biggest focuses right now. The other one is adjusting at the plate and ‘winning each inning.’ Whether we’re home or away, making adjustments at the plate that helps us score a couple runs each inning.”

“We got to keep battling,” she continued. “I’m trying to keep the girls’ spirits up. When you get in games like this it’s kind of hard to keep that momentum and that drive when certain areas are struggling. We just have to keep working.”

Last Thursday at Manheim Township, the host team cruised to a 9-1 victory over Ephrata. The Lady Mounts scored their lone run of the game in the top of the seventh as Jenna Black had the lone Lady Mount hit of the game off Township pitcher Reilly Gearhart, who struck out 12 batters in the win.

August Mason had a home run to pace the Blue Streaks.

Last Wednesday, Ephrata did pull out a 9-8 victory on the road at Conestoga Valley.

In that victory, Hershberger had three hits and a pair of doubles to pace the seven-hit Ephrata attack.

Cocalico, meanwhile, picked up its first victory of the season Monday afternoon with a convincing 10-5 road win at Columbia.

Caitie Riegel had three hits and knocked in four runs to pace the 11-hit Cocalico attack. Steph Kochel and Kourtnee Good also had big days at the plate with three-hit performances. One of Kochel’s hits was a double.

Emi Cervantes earned the win on the mound as Cocalico improved to 1-6 in Section Three play (1-8 overall).

Last Thursday at Manheim Central, the host Barons plated a run in the bottom of the seventh to break a 10-10 tie and walk off with an 11-10 victory over Cocalico.

Jess Snader had five hits while Kochel went 4-for-6 with a double and two RBI to lead Cocalico in the loss.

Up next, Cocalico host Annville-Cleona Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Stevens Field. Friday, Cocalico travels to Lebanon Catholic 4:15 p.m.before hosting Lancaster Mennonite next Monday at 4:15 p.m.

As for Ephrata, the Lady Mounts travel to Cedar Crest Wednesday (7 p.m.) before returning home to battle Hempfield Friday at 4 p.m. Ephrata also will be in action Monday as the Lady Mounts travel to McCaskey for a 4 p.m. start.

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