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BY JEFF FALK

SOUTH LEBANON – First, the good news.

The Cedar Crest softball team is vastly improved. It’s made great strides in its fundamentals. And it genuinely knows what it’s doing out on the diamond.

Now, the bad news.

The Falcons are inconsistent. They still have plenty of things to clean up and polish. And the hardest part – building upon the positives they’ve already fostered – is still to come.

On a bright Wednesday afternoon at Cedar Crest Middle School, the Falcons experienced the best and worst of both worlds, during a 14-2, six-inning setback at the hands of Hempfield’s Black Knights. For the first four innings, Cedar Crest played some of its best softball of the spring, before unraveling in the later innings and bringing the mercy rule into play.

Amid coaching changes and instability at the top of the program, Cedar Crest has struggled for a good portion of the last decade – and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic. Yesterday’s result left the Falcons 1-2 on the year and 1-2 in Section One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League.

With the outcome, Hempfield improved to 1-2 on the spring and 1-2 in the section.

“We were beating Hempfield 2-1 going into the top of the fifth inning,” said Cedar Crest rookie head coach Stephanie Leonardo, “and it was a total team effort. That first four innings, we played with confidence. The negative was our defense. We just need to play more consistently. I want the girls to know we’re good enough to play that way.

“I have confidence things are going to be good this season,” continued Leonardo. “We’ll win more games and we’ll get better. I completely believe in my girls.”

Down a run heading into the bottom of the fourth, Cedar Crest scored twice to take a 2-1 lead.

Reese Arnold and Riley Roher got it started for the Falcons with a walk and a single. A Black Knight error allowed one Cedar Crest run to score, before Sam Hoffman put the Falcons ahead with an RBI-single.

“What I liked about the bottom of the fourth is that two of my girls came up to the plate with confidence,” said Leonardo. “They both struck out their first time up, and they put the ball in play. I kind of challenged them. I told them, ‘You’re good hitters.’

“Sometimes at the plate, you’ve got to make changes,” added Leonardo. “They did what they needed to do. They did their jobs.”

For as well as Cedar Crest played in the first four innings, the Falcons played as poorly in the final two.

In the top of the fifth, Hempfield sent 12 batters to the plate and scored nine times to take a 10-2 lead. The Falcons committed two physical errors – and perhaps just as many mental ones – behind starter Maddi Sherrid.

“We made some errors,” said Leonardo. “They (the Black Knights) hit the ball. They earned most of their runs. But the errors just kind of compounded on top of themselves.”

Hempfield kept coming in the top of the sixth inning.

This time, the Black Knights sent eight more hitters to the dish and plated another four runs. After the lead-off hitter had been retired, the next five Hempfield batters reached base, on three doubles, a single and a Cedar Crest error.

“We’re capable of scoring against one of the top teams in the section,” said Leonardo. “We’re capable of staying right with one of the top teams in the section. It’s about confidence.

“I thought Maddi did well,” Leonardo continued. “Unfortunately, they (the Black Knights) were a good hitting team. She located her pitches well. She hit her spots. She started strong and kept us in the game.”

Sherrid did not strike out a batter and did not walk a batter in her five innings of work. Cedar Crest committed a total of six errors, and was guilty of at least one in five of the six inning played.

“Things were going really well for the first four innings,” said Leonardo. “We were playing a great game. We played good defense. But they started to hit the ball and we made some errors.

“I just want the girls to be really confident, and my goal is to get them to believe in themselves,” Leonardo added. “I want them to come out, have fun and play as a team.”

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

2021 Cedar Crest Softball Schedule

DateOpponentsOutcomes
3/18
4:15 pm
Central Dauphin East
at Cedar Crest

Nonleague
3/31
4:15 pm
Warwick
at Cedar Crest
10
1

League
4/05
4:15 pm
Cedar Crest
at McCaskey
26
1

League
4/07
4:15 pm
Hempfield
at Cedar Crest

League
4/09
4:15 pm
Manheim Township
at Cedar Crest

Nonleague
4/12
4:15 pm
Cedar Crest
at Penn Manor

League
4/14
7:00 pm
Cedar Crest
at Ephrata

Nonleague
4/16
4:15 pm
Lampeter-Strasburg
at Cedar Crest

Nonleague
4/19
4:15 pm
Solanco
at Cedar Crest

Nonleague
4/21
7:00 pm
Cedar Crest
at Elizabethtown

Nonleague
4/23
4:15 pm
Cedar Crest
at Conestoga Valley

Nonleague
4/24
9:00 am
Cedar Crest
at Annville-Cleona

Nonleague
4/26
4:15 pm
Lebanon
at Cedar Crest

Nonleague
4/28
4:15 pm
Cedar Crest
at Warwick

League
4/30
4:15 pm
McCaskey
at Cedar Crest

League
5/03
4:15 pm
Cedar Crest
at Hempfield

League
5/05
4:15 pm
Cedar Crest
at Manheim Township

League
5/06
4:15 pm
Bishop McDevitt
at Cedar Crest

Nonleague
5/07
4:15 pm
Penn Manor
at Cedar Crest

League

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