SOUTH LEBANON – Speed kills. And two-out magic thrills.
On Monday afternoon, the Cedar Crest softball team employed a little giddy-up along with some clutch to defeat Penn Manor 5-1. With speedster Katie Gable incurring a good portion of the damage, the Falcons scored four runs after two outs had been recorded in the fifth inning, to snap a one-all deadlock.
Cedar Crest right-hander Kayla Seyfert and the Falcon defense took care of the rest. By inducing the Comets to put the ball in play and taking full advantage of her steady infield and outfield play, Seyfert went the distance for the win.
That win made Cedar Crest 4-2 overall and 2-2 in Section One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. Penn Manor is now 1-5 on the campaign and 0-4 in the section.
“I thought we started out rather lethargic,” said Cedar Crest head coach Jerry Stover. “Sometimes when you get that first warm day it gets to the kids. But Gable’s speed is huge. She has exceptional speed and she puts so much pressure on the defense. That’s how we scored our first run.
“And I thought we played fairly good defense,” added Stover. “We made one error, but we got out of that inning.”
Save for Gable’s manufactured run an inning earlier, Cedar Crest hadn’t generated much offense heading into the bottom of the fifth inning. With one away, Falcons Sarah Miller and pinch-hitter Ashley Wolf walked.
An out later, Gable delivered a two-run single down the right field line that gave the Falcons a 3-1 lead. Ashley Austin followed Gable and plated her with a run-scoring single, and Kayil Martinez completed the rally with yet another RBI-safety.
“We used a couple of pinch hitters and moved some players around,” said Stover. “We just made some moves and tried to generate a spark. And we used our good luck charm, Ashley Wolfe – in three pinch-hit performances she has a double and two walks. And she kept things rolling with one out.
“In our first two games, we were very aggressive and attacked the ball,” continued Stover. “But the last couple of games we’ve been tentative, taking too many strikes and swinging at bad pitches.”
Although she wasn’t overpowering, Seyfert pitched within herself throughout. After surrendering a first inning run, Seyfert didn’t allow another over her final six innings of work.
During that time, the senior struck out four and walked four. Of the 21 outs that Seyfert recorded, 14 came via the fly out.
“She pitched better,” said Stover of Seyfert. “She’s been having some control issues. Today she was up in the zone. She got herself in trouble because she got behind in the count. That makes it tough, but she fought through it. All those pop-ups were the results of rise-balls.
“She has good movement on her ball,” Stover added. “She throws screwballs, and her drops can be effective. When she can throw the riser at the top of the zone, she can be effective. And we had a pretty decent defense.”
With her team down a run, Gable took it upon herself to make something happen in the bottom of the fourth. Using her legs, Gable singled to lead off the frame, stole second, went to third on a grounder by Seyfert and then scored easily on a wild pitch.
“One of our assets is the top of our lineup,” said Stover. “We have good speed and that’s crucial in softball. She’s (Gable) got good speed and (lead-off hitter) Netanyia Valentin has got good speed. But we’re a young team. I think we’re going to get better as the season goes on. But we’ve got to have some success, like tonight.
“Every year we’re competitive, right in there and looking for a playoff spot in the Lancaster-Lebanon League,” Stover continued. “That’s exactly what I expect this year.”