BY JEFF FALK
SOUTH LEBANON – It is now time to consult the all-knowing Magic Eight-Ball for insight into the Cedar Crest softball season.
Have the Falcons had a successful season? Better not tell you now.
Is there still time left for Cedar Crest to make it one? Signs point to yes.
Do the Falcons have to make it to the District Three postseason for it to be considered a success? Reply hazy, try again.
If Cedar Crest is to qualify for the playoffs, what needs to happen? Concentrate and ask again.
On Wednesday afternoon at Cedar Crest Middle School, the Falcons took a definitive step in that direction,with a 3-2 come-from-behind, extra-inning victory over Conestoga Valley. Cedar Crest won it on Anna DeBellis’ walk-off single that scored Maddie Gable, with one out in the eighth frame.
After being asked to sacrifice earlier in the count, DeBellis lined an Alexia Trott offering up the middle to provide the Falcons with the decisive run. Gable started the rally with a one-out single, then moved to second on Ashley Maulfair’s safety.
“She’s been swinging a hot bat,” said Cedar Crest head coach Eric Edwards of DeBellis. “We had the bunt on first pitch, but she fouled it off. I had confidence she would get a good swing on the ball, and she did.
“We didn’t play our best game, by any means,” Edwards continued. “I think we were a little sluggish at the start. We’ve been sluggish at the beginning of games, which makes it tough. But at the end, we did what we had to do to get the job done.”
With the crossover win, Cedar Crest improved to 7-6 overall and 6-5 in Section One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. The Falcons were sitting in the 20th position in the latest PIAA District Three power rankings.
The result made Conestoga Valley 3-10 on the spring and 2-8 in Section Two of the L-L.
“When you word it that way, I’d say no,” said Edwards, when asked if the Falcons need to qualify for districts to make 2016 a success. “Getting to districts would be a great accomplishment for the program. I think it’s been five years since we’ve been in. But there’s a lot of ways to measure the success of your season.
“I don’t put numbers on it, because then you start worrying about what everybody else is doing,” Edwards continued. “And then you don’t concentrate on what you’re supposed to be doing. We can only control what we’re doing. We want to win them. We want to win them one at a time.”
With the score tied, Cedar Crest established a 2-1 edge, after two outs had been recorded in the bottom of the sixth inning. Gable also started that uprising, with a single, and came all the way around to score on Cassie Flocken’s long double.
But the Falcons relinquished that edge in the top of the seventh, also after two outs had been made. A key Cedar Crest error paved the way for Morgan Handwergen’s game-tying hit.
“We’ve struggled offensively, putting up runs,” said Edwards. “It’s not that we’re not hitting the ball. But our hits have been scattered. We have to play small ball. But Maddie’s (Gable) going to keep us in games (from the mound).
“We’ve had our ups and downs, defensively,” added Edwards. “But we played much better tonight.”
Buckskin starter Trott sat down the first nine Falcon batters she faced.
But Crest lead-off hitter Emma Spang broke up her no-hit bid with a ringing triple to left field to open the bottom of the fourth inning. Bailey Perry-McClintic plated Spang with the run that knotted the score at one.
“She threw well,” said Edwards of Trott. “She threw strikes, and we had trouble getting going. It wasn’t until Emma came around the second time and got that triple that we got our first hit. I don’t know if we were seeing it very well early on.
“That’s been our M.O.,” Edwards added. “We seem to wait until the fourth or fifth or sixth inning to get going. To play with the lead is what we want to do. We haven’t been able to get it going.”
Gable recorded the win, partly by scattering seven hits and partly by simply hanging in there. The seasoned right-hander fanned ten, walked two and fielded her position.
Gable yielded a two-out, unearned run in the top of the third that gave Conestoga Valley a 1-0 lead. A pair of Falcon errors figured into the scoring.
“I thought Maddie did well,” and Edwards. “They (the Buckskins) definitely had some good hitters. I don’t know that she threw her best game. But she’s been sharp for us this season. Any time she’s on the mound, we’re going to be in it.”
All nine of the Falcons’ hits came over the last five frames.
“We were sitting at 6-6,” said Edwards. “This was an important game. If we want to get to districts, we had to have this one. We lost the last two. We wanted to get something positive going.
“I think it’s (the postseason) attainable,” concluded Edwards. “We have seven games left. We’ve proven we can compete with anyone. That’s (the playoffs) the ultimate goal. That’s what we’re shooting for.”
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Section One Standings
Section Two Standings
Class AAAA Power Rankings
|16||Central Dauphin East||7-||4-||0||0.666186|
|31||York County School Of Technology||6-||6-||0||0.438359|
|34||J P McCaskey||1-||11-||0||0.396003|