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IMG_2363BY JEFF FALK

FREDERICKSBURG – In scholastic sports, the advantage goes to the aggressor. But when it comes to things like errors, mistakes and blunders, what’s more important is what doesn’t happen, as opposed to what does.

On a windy Thursday afternoon at Northern Lebanon High School, with temperatures in the low 40s, the Annville-Cleona softball squad limited its miscues and opportunistically took advantage of the home team’s errors, in a 12-3 Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three-Four crossover contest. The Little Dutchmen feasted on five early errors by Northern Lebanon, to tally seven unearned runs and open a 7-0, second-inning advantage.

IMG_2316With the win, Annville-Cleona improved to 10-3 overall and 8-2 in Section Four. The loss snapped the Vikings’ three-game winning skein and made them 7-6 on the campaign and 6-4 in Section Three.

“I thought we played well,” said Little Dutchmen skipper Dave Bentz. “We took advantage of everything they gave us. To get those runs early was key. Putting them (the Vikings) on their heels was important.

“It was here we go again,” Bentz continued. “It was another inter-County game. Any run you get, not matter how you get them, is big. Getting two in the first was huge. Getting a handful in the second inning was even bigger.”

IMG_2352“We played poorly on defense,” said Northern Lebanon manager Andy Bender. “It was cold for everybody, and I don’t want to make excuses. But we’ve got to make those plays. Give them (the Little Dutchmen) credit.

“As a coach, playing from behind eliminates possibilities,” continued Bender. “You don’t wan to give them outs. You have to be more cautious and it becomes more like station-to-station. We’re not built to come back from a seven-run deficit, at least not yet. It wasn’t total hard luck on our pitching. It’s being aware of situations defensively.”

IMG_2326Annville-Cleona converted lead-off free passes to Morgan Zimmerman and Veronica Wampler into a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. The Little Dutchmen fire was fueled two Viking errors, as Christy Snyder and Amber Rexrode picked up A-C RBIs.

Thanks to three more Northern Lebanon fielding blunders, the Little Dutchmen upped their advantage to 7-0 in their second at-bat. There were also the matter of a walk, a couple of wild pitches and RBIs from Annville-Cleona’s Sara Fischer and Cayla Gassert.

IMG_2360“I don’t know. You’ve still got to play,” said Bentz of his side’s early lead. “There is no lead that is safe. Crazy things happen in this game. We preach to them (his players), ‘You’ve got to play the game’. You’ve got to get 21 outs, and when you do, you go home.

“I thought we did better with the bats today,” added Bentz. “I’m not taking anything away from their (the Vikings’) pitchers. But we need to be more aggressive on the first strike, for sure.”

“For some of these girls, I don’t think it is a rivalry,” said Bender. “I think it’s more of a rivalry with Elco. But I think it’s different with different sports. If we competed head-to-head in the section, I think it would be more of a rivalry (with Annville-Cleona).

IMG_2319“I think everybody needs to deal with the weather,” Bender added. “It added to the struggles we had. We were on a three-game win streak, and today we threw the ball around.”

The Vikings did touch Annville-Cleona starter Emma Lerchen for an unearned run in the bottom of the second inning, and a Richelle Kreiser lead-off walk and Erica Dulac’s RBI-single in the bottom of the third. But the Little Dutchmen got one of those runs back against Northern Lebanon reliever Jess Kreiser in the top of the fifth, courtesy of another Viking error, Mindy Reigle’s sacrifice and an M. Zimmerman RBI-hit.

IMG_2306In all, Northern Lebanon was guilty of seven errors, compared to one by Annville-Cleona.

“She threw well,” said Bentz of Lerchen, who fanned seven and walked three. “I don’t know how kids can get loose on days like today. You can’t work up a sweat. We really gave her runs and  we played well behind her.

“I’m never going to be satisfied,” continued Bentz. “The light bulb just doesn’t seem to go on sometimes. We need to start learning from our mistakes, instead of making the same ones.”

IMG_2332“I thought she threw well enough to win,” said Bender of Lerchen. “I wasn’t seeing anything special out there. She stayed around the zone and made us put the ball in play.

“(Viking starter, Ditzler) Nicole was on a streak. We were going with the hot hand,” Bender continued. “Today she was off with her off-speed pitches. She was missing her spots enough for us to struggle. I think on an alternate day, we play even with them.”

Annville-Cleona broke the game open with three runs in the top of the sixth frame that made it an 11-2 game. Lerchen drove home Christy Sndyer, who had led off with a double, while Rexrode and Sara Fischer scored on subsequent wild pitches.

IMG_2339“I think everybody in the county is a rival,” said Bentz. “It’s a short bus trip. We don’t have to go to Lancaster County. A lot of these kids play together in the summer, or play against each other.

“It’s spring softball,” Bentz added. “We never play summer softball. It was cold for both teams.”

The Vikings plated their third run in the bottom of the sixth, as Courtney Hostetter’s double knocked in Molly Mount, who had singled. Annville-Cleona’s final run, in the top of the seventh, was the result of a walk, a passed ball and an error.

“We’re coming down the home stretch,” said Bentz. “We go back to our section starting tomorrow and we’re still battling for first place. We have some teams nipping out our heels. It was a big game today and it’s a big game tomorrow.

IMG_2374“We only have a few seniors, and other than that we’re young,” continued Bentz. “They definitely need to play. They need to learn. We have to get it done now. These games are catching up to us. There’s no practice any more. I told the girls, ‘I’m going to be in your face until we rectify the mistakes.”

“We have the program going in the right direction,” said Bender. “That’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for improvement. Our goal was to get over .500. I don’t know if districts is a possibility. We’d almost have to win every game. But I think the program improving is the big thing. We made more strides this year.

“Ultimately, we were shooting for 13-7,” Bender added. “But again, 12-8 or 11-9 would be pretty good.”

Lancaster-Lebanon League

 Section Three Standings

TEAM LEAGUE OVERALL
Donegal 9-0 12-1
Lampeter-Strasburg 8-1 10-2
Northern Lebanon 6-4 7-6
Elco 5-5 7-5
Manheim Central 5-6 5-7
Cocalico 2-9 2-11

IMG_2302Section Four Standings

TEAM LEAGUE OVERALL
Annville-Cleona 8-2 10-3
Lancaster Mennonite 6-3 6-7
Pequea Valley 6-4 7-5
Columbia 1-7 1-8
Lancaster Catholic 1-9 1-10
Lebanon Catholic 0-7 0-8

Annville-Cleona 2015 Results

IMG_2399

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
03/27
@Tulpehocken
4:15 PM W 11-1
03/30 *
Lancaster Mennonite
4:15 PM W 6-0
04/01 *
Lebanon Catholic
4:15 PM W 15-0
04/02 *
@Columbia
4:15 PM W 19-0
04/06 *
@Pequea Valley
4:15 PM W 7-3
04/08 *
@Lancaster Catholic
4:15 PM W 21-1
04/10 *
@Lampeter-Strasburg
4:15 PM L 3-13
04/13 *
Manheim Central
4:15 PM W 10-7
04/15 *
@Cocalico
4:15 PM W 12-1
04/17 *
Elco
4:15 PM L 0-2
04/18
Cedar Crest
1:45 PM L 1-6
04/23 *
@Northern Lebanon
4:15 PM W 12-3
IMG_2355

Northern Lebanon 2015 Results

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
03/27
Hamburg
4:00 PM L 2-14
03/30 *
@Lampeter-Strasburg
4:15 PM L 0-10
04/01 *
@Cocalico
4:15 PM W 7-2
04/02 *
Manheim Central
4:15 PM W 6-5
04/06 *
Donegal
4:15 PM L 0-8
04/08 *
Elco
4:15 PM W 7-5
04/11
@Conrad Weiser
4:15 PM L 3-9
04/13 *
@Lancaster Catholic
4:15 PM W 12-0
04/15 *
Pequea Valley
4:15 PM L 3-8
04/17 *
@Columbia
4:15 PM W 12-0
04/18
@Oley Valley
11:00 AM W 11-8
04/21
Lancaster Mennonite
4:00 PM W 4-0
04/23 *
Annville-Cleona
4:15 PM L 3-12
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