BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – It’s a short ride north along Route 934 across 422, from Annville-Cleona High School to Lebanon Valley College. But somehow, somewhere, the Little Dutchmen softball team got loss on the way.
Because this was not the same Annville-Cleona team we had seen all year long.
On a sunny Friday evening on LVC’s softball diamond, the Little Dutchmen’s solid season came to a head, with a very un-Dutchmen-like 10-1 loss to Brandywine Heights, in the semifinal round of the District Three Class AA postseason tournament. Plagued by physical and mental mistakes throughout, Annville-Cleona got off to a slow start, before things really got away from it.
The Little Dutchmen managed no hits against Brandywine Heights starter Jess Davidheiser, they were guilty of six errors and they uncorked seven wild pitches.
The loss ended second-seeded Annville-Cleona’s season at 12-8. It was the second time in as many years that the Little Dutchmen’s campaign was ended by Brandywine Heights.
Annville-Cleona is now 41-27 overall in the District Three playoffs.
The result earned the third-seeded Bullets, now 14-9, a trip to the PIAA postseason and a Tuesday date with Susquenita for the District Three Class AA championship.
“I don’t want it to define this season,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Nicki Starry. “They (her players) worked so hard all year. I hope they hold their heads up high.
“This group of young ladies has an amazing strength to them,” continued Starry. “You don’t get that often in high school sports. They were able to grow so far, so fast. Drama is not part of what we do. Softball is what we do. I hope that’s what will take them far in life.”
The contest was competitive over the first four innings. But Brandywine Heights posted eight runs over its final three at-bats to pull away.
Actually, it was in the bottom of the fourth inning when Annville-Cleona pulled to within 2-1 of the lead.
Following a Grace Renninger walk and Arianna Clay being hit by a pitch, Katie Shaak walked to load the bases. A sacrifice fly from Alyssa Ulrich scored Renninger.