BY JEFF FALK
PALMYRA – Sometimes well. Sometimes poorly. And sometimes well AND poorly.
Safe to say it hasn’t been the type of consistent improvement that the Palmyra softball team had its sights set on at the beginning of the season.
On Thursday afternoon, the Cougars’ uneven spring continued to manifest itself, in the form of a 10-5 Mid-Penn Keystone setback to Mechanicsburg. Though it never quit, Palmyra never fully recovered from the 5-0 lead the Wildcats opened in the top of the second inning.
After they qualified for the District Three Class AAA postseason last season for the first time in quite some time, the Cougars are basically in the same position this year. With two games left on its regular-season docket, Palmyra is 8-10 on the year, 5-7 in the Keystone Division and ranked 13th in a Class AAA field that takes 16 for its tournament.
With the win, Mechanicsburg, which dropped an earlier 4-3 decision to Palmyra, upped its overall record to 12-7 and its division mark to 8-5.
“We lost,” said Palmyra head coach Cathy Wicker. “We didn’t play to our potential. It didn’t seem like their (her players’) heads were in the game. They (the Wildcats) played well.”
“We have bad days and good days,” said Cougar second-baseman and lead-off hitter Hannah Phillippy. “There was good and bad today. I thought pretty highly of us at the beginning of the season. Even though we lost some good girls we have potential and people who can do things. Sometimes the season has met those expectations, and sometimes it hasn’t.”
Staring down a 7-1 deficit, the Cougars got the potential go-ahead run to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning. They did it with two outs and nobody on, as six straight Palmyra batters reached base.
In making it a 7-4 game, Kayla Bonawitz drove home one run with a single and scored another on a wild pitch, while Phillippy also scored a run on a wild pitch, after singling.
But Mechanicsburg stole back any momentum the Cougars had generated by plating three runs on three hits in the top o the seventh.
“Our team has had a problem with coming from behind,” said Palmyra pitcher Cat Wicker. “Although we lost and we didn’t compete to our full potential, I felt like we had a breakthrough with our comeback. It showed we can come back. It showed we can rise up.”
“There were points when we were up,” said Bonawitz. “We’ve got to make sure we’re together always. As a captain, my role is to make sure the team stays together. And if anything needs improvement, I have to make sure we help each other through that.”
Mechancisburg’s Erica Molovich tagged Cat Wicker for a solo homer in the top of the first inning that staked her side to a 1-0 lead. Then the Wildcats tacked on four runs in the top of the second, as Virginia Tech-bound sophomore Taylor Clark smacked a two-run double, ahead of teammate Kirstie Shay’s two-run single.
“I did not throw as well as I could,” said Wicker, the pitcher who gave up a dozen base knocks. “It wasn’t my best, but it wasn’t my worst. Against a team like that, you can’t throw mediocre.
“They got out to an early lead,” Wicker continued. “I felt like we couldn’t close on the last out.”
“When we’re doing well, we’re hitting,” said Phillippy. “And when we’re not, we’re struggling to get the ball out of the infield.”
Palmyra pulled to within 5-1 of the Wildcats in the bottom of the third. Bonawitz reached on an error, stole second and then was delivered by Cara Scipioni’s run-producing single.
“Not that well,” said Phillippy, when asked how Mechanicsburg hurler Erica Smiley threw. “Yeah, we could’ve scored more runs today.”
The Cougars’ fifth and final run was also scored with two outs, in the bottom of the seventh inning. Catcher Kailey Werkheiser drilled a double, then came around on an error.
“I was hoping for a strong team,” said Cat Wicker. “There was a lot of new talent we could mold and use. Although we did lose some quality players, it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle. I knew we had a lot of potential.”
“My personal goal was to hit better than I did last year, and help the team score as many runs as possible,” said Bonawitz. “My goal for the team was that we all stick together, no matter how we’re doing.”
Class AAA Softball Rankings
RANK SCHOOL NAME POWER RANKING
1 Greencastle Antrim (16-1) 0.777289
2 Lampeter Strasburg (18-1) 0.751055
3 Donegal (16-3) 0.727433
4 Shippensburg Area (13-4) 0.711552
5 James Buchanan (16-3) 0.703792
6 West York Area (12-4) 0.703155
7 Kennard Dale (14-3) 0.700715
8 Susquehannock (13-4) 0.691642
9 Big Spring (12-6) 0.683076
10 Muhlenberg (13-7) 0.653386
11 Middletown Area (11-5) 0.646389
12 Hamburg Area (12-7) 0.608320
13 Palmyra Area (8-9) 0.588512
14 Dover Area (7-9) 0.573712
15 Conrad Weiser (9-7) 0.567040
16 Eastern York (8-8) 0.565160
17 York Suburban (6-7) 0.564013
18 Northern York (9-8) 0.552150
19 Berks Catholic (11-7) 0.549613
20 Susquehanna Township (6-9) 0.544241
21 Eastern Lebanon County(ELCO) (9-8) 0.532619
22 Cocalico (5-12) 0.525816
23 Twin Valley (8-12) 0.507375
24 Bermudian Springs (7-10) 0.493901
25 Gettysburg Area (7-12) 0.490847
26 Northern Lebanon (8-12) 0.486116
27 West Perry (7-9) 0.480183
28 Fleetwood Area (6-12) 0.459721
29 Northeastern (4-13) 0.433278
30 Lancaster Catholic (5-12) 0.394595
31 Manheim Central (3-14) 0.379887
32 Boiling Springs (0-15) 0.309
33 East Pennsboro (1-13) 0.281017
34 Milton Hershey (1-11) 0.27015