BY JEFF FALK
FREDERICKSBURG – What is this ‘schneid’ thing, anyway? According to the dictionary, ‘schneid’ is actually short for ‘schneider’, a term originally used in the card game of gin, meaning to prevent an opponent from scoring any points.
‘Schneid’ is also what the Cedar Crest softball team was on, and something the Falcons got off of yesterday.
On a windy Saturday afternoon, the Falcons registered their initial win of the spring, pounding out a 9-5 victory over Northern Lebanon. Cedar Crest sent 11 hungry hitters to the dish in the top of the fifth inning and scored six runs to break open a close game.
The game was fairly clean up until the Falcons’ half of the fifth, both sides were throwing strikes, each team was putting the ball in play and the Cedar Crest and Northern Lebanon fielders were making plays. In the final tally, the Vikings out hit the Falcons 14-13.
Cedar Crest is now 1-3 overall. The setback also dropped Northern Lebanon to 1-3.
“The bats are really starting to come around,” said Cedar Crest rookie head coach Eric Edwards, who registered career triumph numero uno. “It started in the Warwick game, and carried over to today. We really hit the ball well. Everybody contributed. It was a total team win.
“I would say it was our best game so far,” continued Edwards. “We had girls really get on it. For us, it’s confidence at the plate. Our confidence has come along. We’re more relaxed. We’re working on it in practice.”
“That one big inning was kind of our unraveling,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Andy Bender of the Falcons’ fifth. “We were right in the game. We struggled a little bit. We’re preaching: ‘Don’t hang your heads’. We kept the pressure on them (the Falcons).
“We have been preaching focus,” Bender continued. “We’re trying to teach them (his players) awareness and understanding the situations. It’s a maturity thing.”
Protecting a 2-1 edge, the Falcons’ fifth began with Em Spang’s single, and she came all the way around to score on a Viking throwing error. Then with two outs, Cedar Crest tacked on five more runs, including a bases-loaded walk to Brooke Carpenter.
But the big blow was struck by lead-off batter Katie Gable, a ringing triple that reach the fence in left field and scored three teammates. The fleet Gable scored the Falcons’ sixth run of the rally on a Northern Lebanon error.
“We had three triples today, and Katie’s was big,” said Edwards. “When we’re hitting the ball with runners on base, that’s key. One of the things we’ve come up with the last few games are timely hits. Things are coming together with this team.
“We haven’t been concerned about our record,” added Edwards. “I’m not worried about 0-3. They’ve (his players) been relaxed at practice. They haven’t been pressing. We bounced back today with a good effort. We know what we’re capable of. Hopefully this is the first of many.”
“One of the things I saw with them is they were aggressive,” said Bender of the Falcons. “They swing the bats well. They seem to play as a team. Their pitcher (Kay Martinez) threw strikes. But that was beneficial to our team because we were aggressive with strikes.”
The Vikings never fully recovered from the Falcons’ fifth, but neither did they quit. Northern Lebanon got one of those runs back in the bottom of the frame, on Molly Mount’s sacrifice fly.
Then in the sixth, the Vikings pulled to within 8-5 with four hits and three runs. Sarah Whitman’s two-run double scored Kacey Smoot and Brandy Malehorn, who had singled, and Whitman was plated by Jess Kreiser’s RBI-single.
“I thought she pitched really well,” said Edwards of Martinez and her three strikeouts and no walks in six innings of work. “She kept the ball down in the zone, and she worked ahead in the count most times. I can’t say enough about her. She’s one of our leaders and she’s done a great job. She’s a laid-back kid and doesn’t get down.
“I don’t know a whole lot about them (the Vikings), but what I do know is they don’t have a lot of quit in them,” Edwards added. “We were up 8-1, and they kept coming. They don’t have one senior. They have a bright future.”
“Yeah, that’s the best we’ve hit so far, easily,” said Bender. “Up and down the order, there were quality at-bats.
“Offensively, we hit a couple of ‘at-em’ balls,” added Bender. “It’s hard for me to go up and down the lineup and find one girl who struggled at the plate. It was very encouraging.”
Cedar Crest got to Northern Lebanon starter Jess Kreiser in the top of the first for a 1-0 lead. Spang’s run-scoring single made a run out of Katie Ford’s one-out triple.
The Vikings knotted the score at one in the bottom of the second. Courtney Hostetter singled, stole second and came home courtesy of a Whitman safety.
The Falcons regained the lead in the top of the third, as Spang led off with a triple, then came around on Brandi Deaven’s RBI-single.
“She has pretty good stuff,” said Edwards of J. Kreiser. “I was impressed with her. She struggles a little bit with control. But she has good pop on her ball.”
“In spots, I saw a little bit of improvement,” said Bender of J. Kreiser. “We have to instill in her, when the inning isn’t going the way she likes it, she’s got to take her time. And she’s got to work on top. For both pitchers, it was a matter of confidence.”
Another Spang RBI-hit, this one in the top of the seventh, made it 9-4 Crest. The Vikings’ final run came in their last at-bat, courtesy of a sacrifice fly from Malehorn.
“Every game has kind of been different,” said Edwards. “The first game against Governor Mifflin, timely hitting was our problem. The Hempfield game got away from us. We gave up five runs in the first inning, and it’s hard to come back from that against a good team. The last one, we had them (Warwick’s Warriors) beat, and it just slipped away. It feels good to get the first one.”
“I see progress. I see a lot of good progress,” said Bender. “We need to work a little bit on circumstances. I thought when they (the Falcons) put six runs up, we had trouble with that. We need to work on control and understanding situational defense.
“But we’ve been in every game,” Bender concluded. “I’m not overly concerned.”