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IMG_3207BY JEFF FALK

MYERSTOWN – What is the importance of Elco softball?

Certainly it is not life or death. It’s not even the most popular female sport at Eastern Lebanon County High School.

But philosophically, softball does possesses the power to provide perspective. What makes it relevant are people, relationships and the memories it fosters.

On Tuesday after school, the 2015 softball season continued to wind down for the Raiders, as Elco endured a 4-2 non-league loss to Trinity. With the score knotted at two, the Shamrocks pushed across the eventual winning run in the top of the fourth inning and then added an insurance tally in their next at-bat.

IMG_3233The contest was the next-to-last for a Raider squad that has experienced a bit of a disappointing spring. Just 2-6 over its last eight games, Elco is now 9-11 overall, with Wednesday’s season-ending home contest with Conrad Weiser pending.

The Raiders are rated 25th among Class AAA teams in a District Three field that takes 16 for its postseason. Trinity improved to 7-6 on the year.

“You always want it to be a success,” said Dennis Morgan, who recently made public his decision to step aside as Elco’s head coach. “But in this day and age, getting kids and being competitive is difficult. Section Three (of the Lancaster-Lebanon League) is competitive. We didn’t get our goals. But I’m not disappointed. For some of them (his players), their biggest enemy is themselves. We’ve had a lot of injuries and you can’t play teams missing players.

“I would say the problems have been a combination of defense and hitting,” Morgan continued. “Some of it has to do with communicating out there. We constantly tell them (his players), ‘Know how many outs there are and what I am going to do if the ball is hit to me’.”

IMG_3236Trinity’s winning run was of the unearned variety set up by a Raider error, and driven home by two-hole hitter Ashley Baldwin. An inning later, the Shamrocks used a walk and another Elco miscue to up their advantage to 4-2.

Over their final four at-bats, the Raider offense consisted of an Amaya Phillips safety, a Beth Hess single and a hit-batter. Elco did not advance a runner past second base during those frames.

“They (the Shamrocks) went ahead, we caught them, and then we had to catch them again,” said Morgan. “Overall. we did not play bad. But we gave them too many runs. It came down to basics, with their (his players) throws and their swings. Every one of our errors cost us runs. We had some spots where we got some hits, but they (his players) were chasing bad pitches.

IMG_3271“You want to end out the season on a positive note, even if it is to build for next year,” added Morgan. “The girls have it in the back of their minds that they can win. We have hitting. We have pitching. But we’ve got to get it together. With our injuries, we had two or three freshmen starting tonight.”

Elco had plated its second tying run in the bottom of the third frame. Lead-off batter Sarah Yermalovich walked, was sacrificed to second by Hess and then came around on Claire Shaak’s RBI-single.

“Claire was her normal self,” said Morgan of his starting pitcher, .700 batter and the player poised to become Elco’s all-time hit leader. “She battles and battles. But you’re going to tire out if you have to make extra pitches and get extra outs.

IMG_3200“She (Trinity right-hander Baldwin) didn’t throw bad,” Morgan added. “She wasn’t anything we had seen all year. We had to wait on her, but she had a beautiful change-up.”

The Shamrocks got to Shaak in the top of the second inning for a different unearned run, and a 2-1 edge. Following an Elco error and Sam Coleman’s single, Trinity’s Erin Pfeffer and Jenna Barone executed a double steal, with Pefeffer swiping the plate on the front end of it.

IMG_3266“If they take their time, concentrate, not think and react to the pitch, they do fine,” said Morgan of his batters’ approach to hitting. “I think they over-think. They’re not reacting. We tell them constantly, ‘See the ball. Hit the ball’. It’s a combination of being over-anxious and somewhat inexperienced.

“There are some games we’d like to have back,” continued Morgan. “But they’ve (his players) got to do it themselves. You can give them tools and practice, but they have to execute. We had too many games that we gave away.”

The Raiders matched the Shamrocks’ opening-inning run with one of their own. Hess walked and stole second, ahead of Shaak’s two-our, RBI-double.

“Last week we knew we weren’t going to make districts,” said Morgan. “I figured we had an outside chance if we beat Northern Lebanon, Trinity and Conrad Weiser and jumped up. But we’re not going to make districts. Yes, they (his players) know. They don’t follow the district power rankings, but we (the coaches) do. It’s not that they don’t want to go. It’s that they don’t execute.

IMG_3248“We missed it (the district playoffs) by a percentage point last year,” Morgan continued. “Overall, we had good senior leadership this year. I have four good senior players, Claire, Beth, Vern (Reinhart) and Courtney (Hogeland). Wit the majority of our leadership, I couldn’t ask for more.”

Trinity grabbed a 1-0 cushion in the top of the first, after Shaak had retired the first two batters. Amanda Knaubt tripled and Chey Shifflett followed with a run-producing single.

“I didn’t hand in my resignation yet, but this is my last year,” said Morgan. “I’d love to have (assistant coach) Randy Derr get the job. He’s our pitching coach, and I’d like to stay on and help. There’s talent here. There’s up-and-coming players. The program is set if the girls stay with it. I’m not leaving him with an empty gas tank.

IMG_3253“They’re (younger players) committed to the program,” concluded Morgan. “Some play other sports, and I like that. But 90 percent of them want to play summer ball. I think the program is headed in the right direction.”

In going the distance, Shaak struck out five and walked three.

To inquire about the purchase of images in this post email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to www.http://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/gallery-nine/.

Elco 2015 Results

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
03/30 *
Manheim Central
4:15 PM W 8-5
04/01 *
Lampeter-Strasburg
4:15 PM L 0-12
04/02 *
@Donegal
4:15 PM L 3-15
04/06 *
Cocalico
4:15 PM W 12-5
04/08 *
@Northern Lebanon
4:15 PM L 5-7
04/09
Lebanon
4:15 PM W 16-6
04/10 *
Lancaster Catholic
4:15 PM W 10-0
04/13 *
@Pequea Valley
4:15 PM L 6-7
04/15 *
Columbia
4:15 PM W 11-1
04/17 *
@Annville-Cleona
4:15 PM W 2-0
04/22 *
@Lancaster Mennonite
4:15 PM L 4-8
04/23
Tulpehocken
4:15 PM W 6-3
04/24 *
@Manheim Central
7:30 PM L 3-6
04/27 *
@Lampeter-Strasburg
4:15 PM L 0-15
04/27 *
@Lampeter-Strasburg
7:00 PM L 0-15
04/28 *
Lebanon Catholic
4:15 PM W 14-1
04/29 *
Donegal
4:15 PM L 0-11
04/30 *
@Cocalico
4:15 PM W 5-3
05/04 *
Northern Lebanon
7:00 PM L 7-11
05/05
Trinity
4:15 PM L 2-4

 IMG_3256PIAA District Three

 Class AAA Power Rankings

AAA School W L T Rating

1 Donegal 18- 2- 0 0.749647

2 James Buchanan 16- 2- 0 0.746893

3 Lampeter Strasburg 17- 2- 0 0.739786

4 Twin Valley 15- 5- 0 0.736126

5 Conrad Weiser 15- 2- 0 0.733717

IMG_32526 Greencastle Antrim 11- 6- 0 0.706854

7 Bishop McDevitt 11- 5- 0 0.69219

8 Littlestown 16- 3- 0 0.686106

9 Kennard Dale 15- 3- 0 0.685218

10 Dover Area 12- 6- 0 0.669696

11 Big Spring 12- 6- 0 0.661225

12 Garden Spot 10- 9- 0 0.631885

13 Spring Grove Area 10- 10- 0 0.623711

14 Berks Catholic 13- 6- 0 0.609619

15 Susquehannock 10- 8- 0 0.608692

IMG_320216 Hamburg Area 11- 9- 0 0.599561

17 Susquehanna Township 8- 11- 0 0.579804

18 West Perry 12- 6- 0 0.568401

19 York Suburban 10- 6- 0 0.561275

20 West York Area 8- 10- 0 0.56005

21 Gettysburg Area 10- 8- 0 0.558160

22 Fleetwood Area 7- 11- 0 0.53984

23 Manheim Central 8- 9- 0 0.531607

24 Northern Lebanon 9- 10- 0 0.52317

IMG_321825 Eastern Lebanon County 9- 9- 0 0.521285

26 East Pennsboro 8- 9- 0 0.504532 0

27 Northeastern 6- 13- 0 0.489572

28 Middletown Area 4- 12- 0 0.471087

29 Northern York 6- 11- 0 0.450661

30 Boiling Springs 3- 13- 0 0.380623

31 Eastern York 4- 14- 0 0.367421

32 Schuylkill Valley 1- 15- 0 0.314305

33 Milton Hershey 1- 14- 0 0.213387

Lancaster-Lebanon League

 IMG_3268Section Three Standings

TEAM LEAGUE OVERALL
Donegal 14-1 17-2
Lampeter-Strasburg 14-1 16-2
Northern Lebanon 7-7 9-10
Manheim Central 8-9 8-11
Elco 7-10 9-10
Cocalico 3-14 3-16

 

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