BY JEFF FALK
Here’s the thing with the ends of seasons – they’re rarely scripted or given much consideration, especially the ones involving losses. Conditioned to take it one game at a time, student-athletes can sometimes find it difficult to deal with the finality of it all.
The Annville-Cleona softball team endured just such a loss on Monday afternoon. And given the success that the Little Dutchmen enjoyed during the spring, it was a tough one to swallow.
At Bloomsburg University, in the opening round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs, A-C absorbed a 14-4, five-inning, season-ending loss to Warrior Run that was not indicative of the campaign it had pieced together. The Little Dutchmen were done in by a nightmarish bottom of the third inning in which Warrior Run scored 13 times to erase their 1-0 lead.
Annville-Cleona, the runner-up from District Three, ended its season 17-8. Along the way, the Little Dutchmen competed in three different postseason tournaments, the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs, districts and states.
Warrior Run, the champions of District Four, improved to 22-2 overall.
If the Little Dutchmen could’ve somehow figured a way to throw out the bottom of the third, the outcome may have been different. But it wasn’t meant to be, as Warrior Run sent 16 hitters to the dish in the frame, ripped eight hits and feasted on four uncharacteristic A-C errors.
In the bottom of the fifth, Warrior Run brought the mercy rule into effect by plating a single run. But not before Annville-Cleona had exhibited some life in the top of the frame.
Senior leader Kaylynn McKinney stroked a two-run single to make it 13-3, and an ensuing run-producing hit off the bat of Darian Brenner had temporarily staved off the ten-run rule.
Annville-Cleona hitters struck out nine times against Warrior Run starter Taylor Parker.