BY JEFF FALK
MYERSTOWN – It’s not rocket science. What it is is a universal truth, which holds throughout every level of the game.
Put the ball in play, and when you do, good things will happen. But before any of that can occur, one must ‘attack the zone’.
On Monday afternoon, the Elco softball team was aggressive in the hitting zone – with both its arms and bats – and the good thing that happened was a 12-5 Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three victory over Cocalico. Behind do-it-all senior righthander Claire Shaak, the Raiders out hit the Eagles14-8, stuck out only three times to Cocalico’s six and drew two free passes.
Elco opened a 9-1 advantage in the bottom of fourth inning, then put it on cruise control the rest of the way. In addition to picking up the complete-game triumph, Shaak went three-for-four at the dish with four RBIs.
The result evened Elco’s overall mark to 2-2, the same as its L-L Section Three record. The outcome made Cocalico 0-5 on the spring and 0-4 in the section.
“We have been preaching that if you put the ball in play, that anything can happen,” said Elco’s veteran head coach, Dennis Morgan. “The idea is to make them (the Eagles) make the plays. We had some good strong hits and we got some cheap hits. But they all count the same in the score book.
“But that’s putting the ball in play,” continued Morgan. “And we took advantage on the base paths. They (the Eagles) didn’t play a bad defensive game.”
Elco grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, just two hitters into its at-bat. Lead-off lady BethWiczalkowski tripled and catcher Beth Hess brought her home with a sacrifice fly to left.
In the bottom of the third, the Raiders tacked three runs on to their lead. Kayla Cox and Wiczalkowski singled ahead of Shaak’s RBI-single, then Vern Reinhart followed with a two-run single.
“Overall, we played OK,” said Morgan. “We had two innings where we had some mental letdowns. We can’t make mistakes like that. Good teams will take advantage of that. But we got some key hits.
“We got a little lax,” Morgan added. “Trying to stay focused is hard. We’ve been facing some good pitching. To adjust to the pitching today, it took a little longer.”
The Raiders flirted with the ten-run mercy rule following a five-run bottom of the fourth that made it 9-1. Elco collected five hits during the rally – Sara Yermalovich’s lead-off single, Jenna Kling’s run-producing single, a safety from Reinhart, Hess’ RBI single and the big blow, a two-run triple by Shaak.
“Overall, I thought it was one of our better games,” said Morgan. “We had mental breakdowns against Manheim Central. But overall, it was a very good game.”
At one point, from the first through the fourth inning, Shaak retired ten Eagles in-a-row. Shaak finished with six strikeouts and no walks.
Cocalico touched Shaak for a pair of runs in both the sixth and seventh frames, pretty much after the outcome had been decided.
“I thought she threw well throughout the game,” said Morgan of Shaak. “She didn’t get some pitches, and others she did get, but she’s always around the plate. And she didn’t give up. She’s a competitor. She’s in mid-season form.
“But on top of her pitching, she’s one of the best batters, and she’s always asking for extra batting practice,” Morgan continued. “She has to be battling. She has a nice curve on her fastball. And she has to get ahead in the count.”
With a walk, a triple, a double and a walk, Elco’s first four batters in the bottom of the sixth – Hess, Shaak, Reinhart and Courtney Hogeland – reached base, resulting in three runs and a 12-3 lead. But the Raiders stranded the potential mercy-rule run at third base.
“Things are not going bad,” said Morgan. “We’ve played some of the harder teams in the section, we think. The other teams we think we can compete with. We hit against Donegal, we just didn’t get a couple of breaks. We should be on track. I still see not reason why we can’t make districts.
“My goal for the girls is to get to districts and get some advanced play,” continued Morgan. “I think we could be competitive.”
In addition to Shaak’s big game, the Raiders also got three hits and three RBIs from Reinhart, two RBIs from Hess and two hits apiece from Wiczalkowski and Yermalovich.
|4:15 PM||W 8-5|
|4:15 PM||L 0-12|
|4:15 PM||L 3-15|
|4:15 PM||W 12-5|