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.