BY JEFF FALK
FREDERICKSBURG – The Northern Lebanon softball team has enjoyed a wonderful season. The Vikings have and will continue to meet or exceed almost every one of their pre-season goals.
Now is the time for them to realize their rewards.
On a humid Thursday afternoon at Northern Lebanon High School, the Vikings’ latest reward came in the form of a 7-3 triumph over West York, in the quarterfinal round of the District Three Class AAAA playoffs. With senior hurler Emma Kelliher sharp on the mound, Northern Lebanon snapped a two-all deadlock in the bottom of the fourth inning, then piled on some insurance tallies in its next at-bat.
Six different Viking batters drove home runs.
The District Three playoff victory was Northern Lebanon’s first in 12 years and snapped a six-game losing skein over those season. The second-seeded Vikings, who improved to 18-4 on the spring, will now meet the winner between third-seeded Bishop McDevitt and sixth-seeded Eastern York, in Tuesday’s semifinals, at a site and time to be determined.
Because the top three Class AAAA finishers from District Three earn spots in the PIAA tournament, the Vikings have been assured at least two more games this season. Northern Lebanon is now 11-21 all-time in the District Three playoffs.
The setback ended tenth-seeded West York’s year at 13-9.
“The first goal was to make the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs,” said Viking skipper Ed Spittle. “We checked that one off our list. Now we’re checking a few other things off. We wanted to make districts for the third year in-a-row. Now we’ve won a game in districts.
“We’re going to enjoy the ride as long as we can,” continued Spittle. “The league took notice of our kids, and they got their due. Emma (Kelliher) has been a pleasant surprise. You’re never sure what you’re going to get on the mound. It’s been a nice reward. These kids work hard. They deserve everything they get.”
“Today was important because Northern Lebanon hasn’t won a district game in awhile,” said Northern Lebanon senior shortstop Sydney Mengel. “For us to win this game, it’s huge. Northern Lebanon softball is not known for going this far. We’re making a name for ourselves. We’re putting ourselves out there.”
With the game tied at two and momentum hanging in the balance, the Vikings came to bat in the bottom of the fourth inning.