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 BY JEFF FALK

 ANNVILLE – The first half of the spring season may not have unfolded exactly how the Annville-Cleona softball team would’ve hoped. But everything is still very much in front of the Little Dutchmen.

 Now the rest is up to them.

 On an overcast Wednesday evening at Annville-Cleona High School, the Little Dutchmen took another step in the right direction, with an 8-6 Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three-Four crossover triumph over Cocalico. Annville-Cleona used a couple of three-run rallies to jump out to a 6-2, third-inning lead, then trusted sophomore starter Grace Renninger to extinguish a late uprising by the visiting Eagles.

 With the victory, Annville-Cleona improved to 5-5 on the season and 4-5 in Section Four. The Little Dutchmen were situated fifth in the most recent District Three Class AA power rankings.

 The loss dropped Cocalico to 3-9 on the spring and 3-8 in Section Three.

 “We’ve started a goal ladder,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Nicki Starry. “My first goal for the team was to be competitive in every game, and we made sure we’re competing early. We’ve really fought and done well. We’re playing solid softball.

 “We’re doing the numbers game at this point of the season,” continued Starry. “It’s our absolute goal to make districts. Once we’re there, our goal is to beat where we were last year and go farther.”

 The key to Annville-Cleona’s triumph yesterday may have been the way it responded to a quick start by the Eagles.

 After Cocalico touched Renninger for a pair of runs in the top of the first inning on Lydia Best’s rare two-run sacrifice fly, the Little Dutchmen responded with a trio of tallies in the bottom of the frame. The crucial blow was a two-run single struck by five-hole hitter Kaila Grubb, following safeties by teammates Katie Shaak, Lauren Schrader and Lexi Long.

 Then in the bottom of the third inning it was the same part of the lineup that helped Annville-Cleona extend its lead to four runs. Shaak and Schrader recorded one-out singles, ahead of RBIs from Long and Grubb.

 “They scored those two runs,” said Starry of the Eagles in the first. “But we had Shaaky come up and crush it. You could see it on the girls’ faces. They were going to make solid contact.

 “We have three ways to get on – by walk, by hit and by getting hit by a pitch,” Starry continued. “That’s all we’re focusing on at the plate, getting on base. If you’re not willing to get hit for your team, you’re a chicken. But I was very pleased with our approach. We wanted to open up the power, but we had to use the small ball and we had to use the slap.”

 It was a bit of an unconventional, yet effective outing for Renniger. The sophomore right-hander yielded three earned runs, fanned 14 and walked seven.

 At one point during the middle innings, Renninger fanned eight Eagle hitters in-a-row. She also only gave up one hit – Carly Heft’s two-out, two-run triple in the top of the fifth that pulled Cocalico to within 6-4 of the lead.

 “Honestly, for Grace, it’s her spin,” said Starry. “She’s not always hitting the spots that are called. But she’s making the ball dance. She has good misses. We’re working on getting her walks down.

 “But she’s mixing the ball well for us,” added Starry. “She’s really come through for us. At the beginning of the season, she really didn’t want to pitch much. But she’s doing what she’s asked. It gives us another arm on the mound.”

 The Little Dutchmen re-established their four-run advantage, this time at 8-4, by plating single runs in both the fifth and sixth innings. Grubb tripled home Schrader, who had walked, and Renninger picked up an RBI behind Alyssa Ulrich’s lead-off single and Emma Good’s subsequent sacrifice.

 But Cocalico refused to go quietly, even going as far as getting the potential tying run to the plate in the top of the seventh frame. Heft collected another RBI and the sixth Eagle run scored on an Annville-Cleona error.

  “It’s never boring,” said Starry. “In the first three innings, I was happy with our performance. But the defense got a little sloppy later in the game. The bats rallied. When I walked out (to the mound in the seventh), Grace said, “I want to finish’. I’m glad she brought it home for us.

 “For us, we had to get back on the winning track,” continued Starry. “It’s about numbers. We’ve got to keep adding numbers on the one side (win column), and not the other.”

 

 

 

 

 To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to https://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/photo-gallery/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2019 Annville-Cleona Softball Schedule

 
 
Date Opponents Outcomes  
3/27
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Lancaster Mennonite
10
0
 
3/28
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Tulpehocken
10
0
 
3/29
4:15 pm
Lancaster Catholic
at Annville-Cleona
6
0
 
4/01
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Lebanon Catholic
19
0
 
4/03
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Columbia
18
3
 
4/04
4:15 pm
Pequea Valley
at Annville-Cleona
5
4
 
4/08
4:15 pm
Donegal
at Annville-Cleona
10
4
 
4/10
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Elco
   
4/12
4:15 pm
Garden Spot
at Annville-Cleona
6
0
 
4/15
7:30 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Manheim Central
1
11
 
4/17
4:15 pm
Cocalico
at Annville-Cleona
   
4/18
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Octorara
   
4/22
4:15 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Annville-Cleona
   
4/24
4:15 pm
Lancaster Mennonite
at Annville-Cleona
   
4/26
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Lancaster Catholic
   
4/29
4:15 pm
Lebanon Catholic
at Annville-Cleona
   
5/01
4:15 pm
Columbia
at Annville-Cleona
   
5/03
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Pequea Valley
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 PIAA District Three
 Class AA Power Rankings
 
 
AA School  W  L  T  Rating  TWP  OWP  TWPW  OWPW  TWPL  OWPL
1 Fairfield 9- 2- 0  0.661089  0.829596  0.455137  9.3  87.5  1.9  104.8
2 Susquenita 9- 2- 0  0.580880  0.774359  0.344407  7.6  60.7  2.2  115.5
3 Brandywine Heights 4- 4- 0  0.490557  0.500000  0.479015  3.6  75.9  3.6  82.6
4 Upper Dauphin 5- 3- 0  0.485873  0.537975  0.422193  4.3  64.3  3.7  88.0
5 Annville Cleona 5- 5- 0  0.475602  0.500000  0.445783  4.6  83.3  4.6  103.5
6 York Catholic 4- 6- 0  0.460300  0.415094  0.515552  4.4  93.7  6.2  88.0
7 Newport 5- 4- 0  0.445508  0.473684  0.411069  4.1  71.3  4.5  102.2
8 Camp Hill 4- 7- 0  0.442400  0.374429  0.525475  4.1  87.2  6.9  78.7
9 Columbia 1- 9- 0  0.256924  0.078947  0.474451  0.8  92.9  8.8  102.9
10 Antietam 0- 9- 0  0.198637  0.000000  0.441416  0.0  62.4  9.2  78.9
11 Steelton Highspire 0- 0- 0  0.000000  0.000000  0.000000  0.0  0.0  0.0  0.0
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Lancaster-Lebanon League
 Section Four Standings
 
 
  League Overall
  W L PCT W L PCT RS RA
Pequea Valley 8 2 80.00 9 2 81.82 103 33
Lancaster Catholic 7 2 77.78 9 4 69.23 102 38
Annville-Cleona 4 5 44.44 5 5 50.00 74 33
Lancaster Mennonite 2 8 20.00 2 9 18.18 40 109
Columbia 1 9 10.00 1 9 10.00 50 93
Lebanon Catholic 0 8 0.00 0 8 0.00 5 119
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

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