BY JEFF FALK
NEWVILLE – The Palmyra softball team has reached this point by constantly seeking to improve. But the way the Cougars have it figured, the only way to keep improving is to play teams better than themselves.
There are no moral victories in the playoffs, but there are plenty of opportunities to get better.
On a bright Wednessday evening at Big Spring High School, Palmyra competed admirably, got a little bit better, but endured a 5-2 setback at the hands of a talented Central Dauphin club, in the semifinal round of the Mid-Penn Conference playoffs. With the score deadlocked, the Rams mounted a three-run rally in the top of the sixth inning that proved to be decisive.
It was the initial appearance in the Mid-Penn Conference tournament for the Cougars, who were crowned Mid-Penn Keystone Division champions for the first time in 28 years days earlier. Now 15-4 overall, Palmyra is expected to host a District Three opening round game, when Class AAAAA begins its tournament on Tuesday.
Central Dauphin, the champions of the Commonwealth Division, moved to 17-2 on the spring and into Thursday’s Mid-Penn Conference title tilt. Back on April 27th in Linglestown, the Rams had completely overwhelmed Palmyra 12-0, in a non-league game in which the Cougars did not record a hit or a walk, and put only four balls in play.
“We don’t play to keep it close,” said Palmyra head coach Tod Whitman. “It’s not like, ‘Hey, we only lost by three runs’ is acceptable. We wanted to make sure we improved over the last game. Hopefully, if we played them tomorrow there’d be more incremental improvement. No one gets better by playing lesser opponents.
“The goal wasn’t to just make districts,” continued Whitman. “Our goal coming into this year was to host a district game. I think we have a fighting chance to win that game. It’s important to put ourselves in position to make a run. We want to approach it like, ‘What can we do to get better?’ I don’t want to go play a mediocre team. That’s what this program needs. We’re not going to sit around and be mediocre. It’s been a successful season, but we’re not done. Hopefully we can get confidence coming out of this.”|