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 IMG_0361BY JEFF FALK

KINZERS – The Annville-Cleona softball team didn’t save its best for last. The Little Dutchmen invested, and have been building towards this.

Yesterday, the rewards they reaped were substantial.

On a beautiful Wednesday evening at Pequea Valley High School, Annville-Cleona employed a season’s worth of experience and put it all together, in a 5-0 blanking of the home-standing Braves, in the opening and quarterfinal round of the District Three Class AAA tournament. The Little Dutchmen used aggressive offense, solid defense and a superb pitching performance by Kaila Grubb to subdue Pequea Valley.

The triumph was fifth-seeded Annville-Cleona’s sixth in its last seven outings and propelled it to 13-7 overall and into Thursday’s semifinal game against top-seeded Brandywine Heights, at 7 p.m. at Lyons Park. The top two finishers in the District Three postseason will qualify for the PIAA Class AAA playoffs.

IMG_0376Pequea Valley, the fourth seed, ended its year at 13-8. During the regular season, the Little Dutchmen and Braves split two Lancaster-Lebanon Section Four encounters, with the Braves winning 10-0 in Kinzers on April 10th and the Little Dutchmen taking the rematch 3-1 in Annville on April 26th.

“It was a very good game,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Nikki Starry, through an ear-to-ear grin. “It’s kind of who we have become. What you saw a month ago was a bunch of young kids coming together to make a team. They have come a very long way.

“We played really well,” continued Starry. “They (her players) came out and did everything I asked them to do. We talked on the way over here, ‘What are our options? How are we going to survive?’ It was by doing what we did.”

“We started out as a really young team,” said Grubb. “I knew we had some rebuilding to do. But we learned from our mistakes. We continued to improve every single game.

“We made a lot of mistakes at the beginning of the year,” added Grubb. “We didn’t have our softball IQs. Now when we have the ball hit to us, we know where to go with it.”

IMG_0259Getting off to a quick start was another key to the Little Dutchmen’s success.

Annville-Cleona grabbed a 1-0 lead after a lead-off single by Lauren Schrader in the top of the first inning. Schrader promptly stole second, moved to third on a throwing error and scored on Grace Renninger’s run-producing grounder.

“I thought we did our sacrifices quite well,” said Starry. “That moves our runners around, and we kept putting pressure on them (the Braves) every inning. We were bound to break through. They’re (her players) doing exactly what I ask them to do.

“The key is confidence,” Starry continued. “Softball is something you can teach anyone. I can’t teach confidence.”

“When I’m on the mound, I like to have insurance runs,” said Grubb. “That first run gave me confidence. We went out there and played a good game.”

The Little Dutchmen’s pressure offense also got to Pequea Valley in the top of the third inning and ultimately produced their second run – and again Schrader was in the middle of everything.

After being hit by a pitch, Schrader stole second and third. She also stole home when, apparently picked off third and in a rundown, the Braves forgot to cover the plate, and Schrader raced home without a play.

“We’re going to find a way to win,” said Starry. “We’re going to find a way to beat you. Once we broke it open, the worse it got for them (the Braves). It kind of snowballed on them.”

“It’s always been back and forth with Pequea Valley,” said Grubb. “We haven’t been able to pull off a win at this point of the season. Today was about showing who should be on top in the section. Plus we were playing to keep going.”

Grubb was in command the entire way. She did not allow a Brave runner to advance past second base.

IMG_0321Grubb retired the first five batters she faced and yielded just three singles. She whiffed six and walked two.

“Kaila Grubb came in with a good head on her shoulders,” said Starry. “She wasn’t nervous at all. She said, ‘Coach, I’m ready. I’m good to go.’ When a pitcher says that to you, you just give her the day.

“Kaila’s had an amazing year for us,” Starry continued. “I don’t think she got a fair shot on the mound last year. She has totally stepped up and become a leader.”

“When I come in, I’m thinking about my job on the mound,” said Grubb. “My expectations are to rotate the ball and for my teammates to field behind me.

IMG_0270“I felt good today,” added Grubb. “All my pitches were working. I’m just trying to hit spots, mix pitches and keep them (the Braves) off balance.”

Up 2-0, Annville-Cleona tacked on three times in the top of the seventh.

The rally was fueled by Noel Martin’s lead-off single and three Pequea Valley errors. Grubb, Destinee Loy and Renninger all contributed RBIs for Annville-Cleona.

“It’s working for the kids,” said Starry. “At the beginning of the season, I thought we were going to be the Bad News Bears and we weren’t even going to make the playoffs. It’s night and day. We’re just really excited to move on to the second round of districts. My country bumpkins have pulled together.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0249To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to https://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/photo-gallery/.

 

 

 

 

 

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IMG_0310 2018 Annville-Cleona Softball Results

Date Opponents Outcomes
3/29
4:15 pm
Tulpehocken
at Annville-Cleona
4/05
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Lancaster Catholic
9
4
4/06
4:15 pm
Lancaster Mennonite
at Annville-Cleona
6
11
4/09
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Columbia
5
3
4/10
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Pequea Valley
0
10
4/11
4:15 pm
Lebanon Catholic
at Annville-Cleona
1
11
4/13
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Lampeter-Strasburg
0
14
4/17
4:15 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Annville-Cleona
11
0
4/18
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Donegal
1
16
4/20
4:15 pm
Elco
at Annville-Cleona
0
3
4/23
7:30 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Manheim Central
0
11
4/26
4:15 pm
Pequea Valley
at Annville-Cleona
1
3
4/28
9:00 am
Cedar Crest
at Annville-Cleona
4
14
4/28
9:00 am
Palmyra
at Annville-Cleona
20
4
4/30
4:15 pm
Lancaster Catholic
at Annville-Cleona
2
3
5/01
4:15 pm
Cocalico
at Annville-Cleona
1
7
5/02
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Lancaster Mennonite
6
2
5/04
4:15 pm
Columbia
at Annville-Cleona
2
10
5/07
4:15 pm
Lebanon Catholic
at Annville-Cleona
3
21
5/12
2:30 pm
Annville-Cleona
Solanco
at Penn Manor’s Manor Middle School
2
6
5/23
4:30 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Pequea Valley
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IMG_0272 PIAA District Three
 Class AAA Power Rankings
AAA School  W  L  T  Rating  TWP  OWP  TWPW  OWPW  TWPL  OWPL
1 Brandywine Heights 16- 3- 0  0.719314  0.859504  0.547970  15.6  197.1  2.6  162.6
2 Kutztown 16- 4- 0  0.697753  0.819588  0.548843  15.9  207.6  3.5  170.7
3 Delone Catholic 12- 5- 0  0.590980  0.717325  0.436557  11.8  137.5  4.7  177.4
4 Pequea Valley 13- 7- 0  0.587577  0.662234  0.496330  12.5  182.6  6.4  185.3
5 Annville Cleona 12- 7- 0  0.555385  0.642659  0.448716  11.6  158.2  6.5  194.3
6 Oley Valley 9- 9- 0  0.508672  0.488439  0.533401  8.5  184.1  8.9  161.0
7 Tulpehocken 10- 10- 0  0.502290  0.490099  0.517191  9.9  193.3  10.3  180.5
8 Trinity 7- 10- 1  0.500454  0.422235  0.596054  7.3  201.2  10.0  136.4
9 Middletown 5- 14- 1  0.428169  0.301136  0.583432  5.8  212.4  13.5  151.7
10 Susquenita 7- 12- 0  0.398571  0.322835  0.491137  6.2  166.3  12.9  172.3
11 Lancaster Mennonite 5- 13- 0  0.350496  0.252841  0.469853  4.5  157.8  13.2  178.1
12 Biglerville 4- 15- 0  0.331026  0.217054  0.470326  4.2  163.3  15.2  183.9
13 Hanover 3- 16- 0  0.288490  0.167082  0.436878  3.4  151.4  16.7  195.2
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Lancaster-Lebanon League

 Final Section Four Standings

League Overall
  W L PCT W L PCT RS RA
Pequea Valley 12 4 75.00 13 7 65.00 164 69
Annville-Cleona 11 5 68.75 12 7 63.16 110 82
Lancaster Catholic 7 10 41.18 7 12 36.84 120 126
Lancaster Mennonite 5 11 31.25 5 14 26.32 98 195
Columbia 3 13 18.75 4 14 22.22 109 119
Lebanon Catholic 0 16 0.00 0 16 0.00 51 287

 

 

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