BY JEFF FALK
HERSHEY – We talk a lot about the journey and destintions and the process. But just because a certain plateau is reached doesn’t mean the process ends.
In many ways, the process is never ending, always evolving, growing and changing.
On a sticky Thursday afternoon at Hershey High School, the Northern Lebanon softball team chalked up its 3-0 loss to Eastern York, in the semifinals of the District Three Class AAAA playoffs, to part of the process. The Vikings’ potent offensive attack was stymied by the hurling of Golden Knight right-hander Maelynn Leber.
It was Northern Lebanon’s first appearance in a District Three semifinal in 21 years. After going 7-13 two seasons ago, and 14-8 in 2018, the Vikings are now 18-5 overall.
Second-seeded Northern Lebanon will seek to keep its season alive and advanced to the PIAA postseason on Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Lebanon Valley College, when it takes on top-seeded West Perry in the consolation game of the District Three Class AAAA tournament. The Vikings are now 11-22 all-time in the District Three playoffs.
Northern Lebanon has never won a district championship in softball.
Eastern York, the sixth seed, moved to 12-6 on the spring and into Friday’s Distict Three title tilt opposite fourth-seeded James Buchanan, at 1 p.m. at Starry Athletic Complex at Messiah College.
“To see them grow from sophomores and juniors, and to see the way they’ve brought the program along, it’s really quite amazing,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Ed Spittle. “This stuff traditionally makes ball players better. You never know what they’re (his players) thinking. We were prepared. But the farther you go, the better it is for the players.
“This is the best coaching staff we’ve had here,” continued Spittle. “It’s really about the girls. But the staff has gotten through to the kids.”
The Vikings encountered their share of difficulties battling Leber throughout. Northern Lebanon mustered just four hits off of her, three of which came in one at-bat.
Leber set down the Vikings in order in the second and fifth innings, but Northern Lebanon did manage to get its lead-off hitters in the fourth and sixth frames as far as third base.