PALMYRA – Pitching. Hitting. Defense. Base running.
The Palmyra softball squad is well-tooled and well-schooled in the fundamentals of the game. Now, all the Cougars need to take their play to the next level is repetition, to hone those skills, and game experience.
On an overcast Wednesday afternoon at Palmyra High School, the Cougars continued to lay a foundation for success, as they whitewashed neighboring rival Hershey 9-0 in a Mid-Penn Keystone Division clash. The Palmyra effort was buoyed by a strong outing from starting hurler Mollie White and a four-run rally in the bottom of the opening inning.
After beginning the spring with three straight setbacks, the triumph pushed Palmyra to 3-4 overall and 3-3 in the Keystone Division. The loss left Hershey 0-4 on the spring and 0-3 in the division.
“We struggled defensively in some of those losses, but we’re cleaning things up,” said Palmyra’s second-year head coach Leanne Potts-Jones. “Our effort is there, and hopefully some of those results will be different the second time around. I think these ladies are very talented.
“I think for the most part, we’ve been taking care of the fundamentals,” continued Potts-Jones. “It’s (the emerging relationship with her players) definitely coming around. With masks on, they can’t see any of my expressions. They don’t know what I’m feeling. But we’re all clicking.”
The Cougar offense certainly clicked in the home half of the first inning, when they scored four times to provide White a margin with which to work.
Palmyra loaded the bases with a walk to White and singles from Abby Weaver and Sam Krahling, then Emily Cutman unloaded them with a booming three-run double. Cutman came around to score on Nitya Patel’s run-producing grounder.
“We started with a walk and a couple of hits, and got the bases loaded,” said Potts-Jones. “Em has been on fire. To her, the ball looks like a beach ball right now. For your pitcher, getting a lead at any point is key. Mollie threw solid in the top half of the first, and then we gave her four runs in the bottom. I think that pretty much set the tone.
“Until they get two strikes, we want the girls up there looking for their particular pitch,” added Potts-Jones. “And when they get their pitch, we want them to be aggressive. I expect them to be aggressive at the plate.”
The way White threw, a large margin for error was not required.
Consistently popping her catcher’s mitt, White surrendered just one hit, whiffed 13 and didn’t walk a batter. The hard-throwing righthander struck out two Hershey batters in six of her seven innings pitched, and took a no-hitter into the top of the sixth inning.
“Mollie has been on fire over the last four games, with at least ten strikeouts in each of those games,” said Potts-Jones. “She’s very confident with Sam (Krahling) catching her. We play defense behind her, and she takes care of the rest.
“I think the key for Mollie is just staying confident in herself,” Potts-Jones continued. “When she’s poised and focused, she sees Sam, and nobody else.”
The Cougars’ lead remained at 4-0 until the bottom of the fifth inning, when they tacked on a two-out, unearned, insurance tally.
“Today went well,” said Potts-Jones. “We played well on Monday, but had a disappointing loss. This was a great team win. We kept pushing it.
“They’re all important, but this was Hershey,” Potts-Jones added. “It’s a school right down the road from us. We seem to have a rivalry with Hershey in every sport. It was also important just to get us re-started from Monday.”
Palmyra put the result out of reach and threatened the ten-run mercy rule with another four-run rally in the bottom of the sixth.
Mackenzie Koennecke got things started with a one-out single, before Weaver and Krahling followed with RBI-safeties. Then, Cutman stamped an exclamation point on the triumph with a two-run dinger that sailed well over the left-center field fence.
“I have some really talented players, and they’re focused,” said Potts-Jones. “I really want to see them succeed because they lost a year (to COVID-19). I want to get them some playing time.
“We have great leadership,” concluded Potts-Jones. “They’re very vocal in the field. It’s nice to have that. They’re communicating, and that helps.”
|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)||0-0|
|2021-04-28||H||vs||Central Dauphin East(3)||0-0|