ELVERSON – The Palmyra softball team didn’t have huge expectations coming in. In a way, the Cougars were simply delighted to get there.
But the Cougars gave a good account of themselves, represented their school and community admirably, and maybe even learned a thing or two. Palmyra also laid a foundation for a promising future.
On a warm Tuesday evening at Twin Valley High School, Palmyra’s uneven, back-and-forth season reached a climax, during an 8-1 loss to the home-town Raiders, in the opening round of the District Three Class AAAAA postseason tournament. Twin Valley used the long ball to establish an early advantage, and was never seriously headed.
The 16th-seed and the last squad to qualify for the Class AAAAA bracket, Palmyra concluded its year at 8-11. Palmyra had won four of its last five outings to qualify for the District Three playoffs.
Twin Valley, the number-one seed, improved to 16-1 overall and barged into Thursday’s quarterfinals of districts.
“They had to face a lot of adversity this year,” said Palmyra interim head coach Kiersten Hertzog of her charges. “There were a lot of ups and downs. They had to kind of start over.”
“We were the 16th-seed, so we were definitely the underdogs,” said Palmyra junior catcher Samantha Krahling. “All the Palmyra teams who made it to the district playoffs deserved it. We were glad we got here too.”
Twin Valley asserted itself early.
Raider clean-up hitter Natalie Foster staked the home side to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the opening inning, blasting a three-run dinger to center field, after teammates Sophia Marsalo and Olivia Litchner had singled.
In the bottom of the second, Twin Valley stretched its lead to 4-0 on a solo blast off the bat of Megan Burnett.
“When they score early runs like that, we have to respond,” said Hertzog. “We had runners on base, but we couldn’t score them. We have to pick good pitches and tell ourselves, ‘we’re going to do this’. Their pitcher (Sophia Palyan) racked up a lot of strikeouts, but we’ve got to put the ball in play.”
“Things kind of went down hill after that,” said White.
“I thought we could’ve used our bats to put pressure on them earlier in the game,” said Krahling.
For her part, White threw well. She was around the plate all evening, but she did give up ten hits, five of which went for extra bases.
White finished what she started, struck out four and didn’t walk a batter.
“I threw good,” said White. “Their (the Raiders’) bats were hitting and their energy was high.”
“They did a great job of working together,” said Hertzog of Krahling and White. “The other team hit the ball.”
The Cougars showed some life in the top of the fourth, when they plated their lone run of the game. But it could’ve been – and maybe should’ve -been more, after loading the bases with nobody out.
Abby Weaver and Emily Cuttman got things going for Palmyra, with a single and a double, respectively, and White walked. Mackenzie Lafferty came through for the Cougars, with a run-scoring hit-by-pitch, but Palyan averted further damage by striking out the side.
Paylan twirled seven innings of two-hit, 17-strikeout, two-walk ball to get the win.
“The defense executed, and we did a good job of getting outs,” said Krahling. “We saw a good pitcher and we were prepared for it. But I thought we could’ve been more selective in our at-bats. We needed to be more aggressive offensively.”
Twin Valley made it a 7-1 game with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Raiders Ashley McMenamin and Marsalo stroked back-to-back doubles, and Palmyra was guilty of a couple of errors.
Palyan placed an exclamation point on the victory with solo ‘big fly’ in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“From the start of the season, we knew offense wasn’t going to be our weakness,” said Krahling. “We knew we had a good pitcher, and I thought we definitely relied on her.”
“It was very important for us to get to districts,” said Hertzog. “We took it day by day. Now we’re going to have a good team coming back. We have a really strong underclassmen group coming in, and they’re going to set the tone. We just have to work hard and carry practices over to games.”
|2021-03-31||H||vs||Bishop McDevitt (3)(3)||L||0-10|
|2021-04-05||A||vs||Central Dauphin East(3)||W||7-1|
|2021-04-26||A||vs||Bishop McDevitt (3)(3)||L||1-5|
|2021-04-28||H||vs||Central Dauphin East(3)||L||1-3|
|19||Spring Grove Area||8-||12-||0||0.515486||0.481865||0.556578||9.30||205.60||10.00||163.80|