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BY JEFF FALK

FREDERICKSBURG – The original blueprint called for a complete and total rebuild. But the on-site contractors had a different idea, so they drew up their own plans.

On a pleasant Thursday afternoon at Northern Lebanon High School, an inexperienced Viking softball crew stayed red hot, with a dramatic 5-4 walk-off victory over Elco. Brooke Beamesderfer’s ringing single scored Viking teammate Kiera Anspach with the decisive run, with no outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Northern Lebanon had entered the frame facing a 4-3 deficit, before lead-off hitter Autumn Bohr singled and stole second. Anspach’s single drove A. Bohr home with the tying run, and an outfield error allowed Anspach to reach third base.

After the next two Vikings were intentionally walked to load the bases, Beamesderfer came through in the clutch.

“It’s going well,” said John Mertz, who was filling in for Northern Lebanon head coach Ed Spittle. “We’re a really young team. We’ve got a senior and two juniors, and the rest are underclassmen. Coming into the season, we thought it was a rebuilding year, but they’re (his players) really starting to mature as a team.

“We didn’t get to play last year because of COVID-19,” added Mertz. “And we lost a lot of good players. Basically, we were starting from scratch.”

“I think we’re doing really well,” said Elco head coach Kelsey Thorley. “We always talk about making improvements each day, and they (her players) continue to do that. Obviously, you don’t like to lose on a walk-off. But it’s refreshing to be in games and to be competitive.

“We talk about blow-up innings, and that hasn’t happened for us in the last two games,” Thorley added. “We’re doing a great job of taking them away.”

The outcome kept Northern Lebanon unbeaten and pushed the Vikings to 4-0 overall and 4-0 in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. With the setback, Elco fell to 0-5 on the spring and 0-4 in the section.

“They were a little flat,” said Mertz of his charges. “We had to come back yesterday (a 6-5 home win over Donegal on Wednesday), and I think that took a lot out of them. Brooke also drove in the winning run last night. She’s clutch, and that’s why we wanted her up there.”

“We knew it was going to be tough,” said Thorley, of the bottom of the seventh. “They had the top of their lineup coming up, and they had been productive all game. We talk about playing to win, and not playing to lose.”

The Raiders tallied a pair of runs in the top of the fourth inning to snap a 2-2 tie. Kam Hine singled and Allie Nolt walked, ahead of another Elco single and a Viking error.

But Northern Lebanon scored a single run off Raider hurler Cate Liskey in the bottom of the fifth to pull to within 4-3 of the lead. Beamesderfer knocked in S. Bohr, who had launched a one-out double.

“They were jumping at the ball a little bit,” said Mertz of the Vikings’ approach at the plate. “They weren’t letting it get to them. They’re used to faster pitching. They had a hard time adjusting their swings.”

“I thought Cate was phenomenal,” said Thorley. “She’s working her tail off. She’s making adjustments on the mound. She continues to make better decisions out there.”

Elco touched Northern Lebanon starter Hope Ritchie for a pair of first-inning runs. Anya Kissinger singled, Liskey doubled her home and then later scored herself on a Viking miscue.

In the home half of the opening inning, A. Bohr singled, stole second and then came around to score on an Elco error to make it 2-1. The Vikings tied it in the bottom of the third, courtesy of S. Bohr’s two-out, RBI-double.

“She (Ritchie) needs to work on throwing strikes,” said Mertz. “She gets in trouble with walks.

“We left them (the Raiders) hang around too long,” added Mertz. “If we had played like we did in our first three games, it wouldn’t have been a one-run game.”

“We talk about discipline at the plate, as far as what pitches to swing at and what pitches not to swing at,” said Thorley. “Hope (Ritchie) worked the plate well. She had a nice rise-ball. They’re (the Vikings) a good team all-around. It was a good Northern Lebanon-Elco rivalry game.”

In the final tally, Northern Lebanon out hit Elco 9-6.

“The goals are always the same – win the section and move on,” said Mertz. “It doesn’t matter how young or old the team is. We’ve been telling them from Day One that they’re good enough to do that. They are young, which means they’ve just got to believe in themselves more.”

“We want to be competitive. That’s our goal,” said Thorley. “Our past three games have been good and competitive. We’re going to win. It’s going to come. Good changes are coming for this team.”

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

2021 Elco Softball Schedule

DateOpponentsOutcomes
3/16
4:15 pm
Bishop McDevitt
at Elco

Nonleague
3/26
4:15 pm
Donegal
at Elco
19
8

League
3/29
4:00 pm
Elco
at Conrad Weiser
3
9

Nonleague
4/05
4:15 pm
Manheim Central
at Elco
8
3

League
4/07
4:15 pm
Elco
at Garden Spot
3
4

League
4/09
4:15 pm
Octorara
at Elco

League
4/12
4:15 pm
Elco
at Cocalico

League
4/14
4:15 pm
Lancaster Catholic
at Elco

Nonleague
4/16
4:15 pm
Elco
at Pequea Valley

Nonleague
4/19
4:15 pm
Columbia
at Elco

Nonleague
4/21
4:15 pm
Elco
at Lancaster Mennonite

Nonleague
4/26
4:15 pm
Elco
at Donegal

League
4/27
4:30 pm
Elco
at Schuylkill Valley

Nonleague
4/30
4:15 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Elco

League
5/03
4:15 pm
Elco
at Manheim Central

League
5/05
4:15 pm
Garden Spot
at Elco

League
5/07
4:00 pm
Elco
at Octorara

League
5/08
1:00 pm
Tulpehocken
at Elco

Nonleague
5/10
4:15 pm
Cocalico
at Elco

League
5/11
4:15 pm
Lebanon
at Elco

Nonleague

2021 Northern Lebanon Softball Schedule

DateOpponentsOutcomes
3/19
4:15 pm
Lower Dauphin
at Northern Lebanon

Nonleague
3/29
4:15 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Octorara
16
6

League
4/01
4:15 pm
Hamburg
at Northern Lebanon
Postponed
Nonleague
4/05
4:15 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Cocalico
13
3

League
4/07
4:15 pm
Donegal
at Northern Lebanon
5
6
Boxscore
League
4/09
4:15 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Manheim Central

League
4/12
4:15 pm
Garden Spot
at Northern Lebanon

League
4/14
4:15 pm
Pequea Valley
at Northern Lebanon

Nonleague
4/16
4:15 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Columbia

Nonleague
4/19
4:15 pm
Lancaster Mennonite
at Northern Lebanon

Nonleague
4/23
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Northern Lebanon

Nonleague
4/28
4:15 pm
Octorara
at Northern Lebanon

League
4/30
4:15 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Elco

League
5/03
4:15 pm
Cocalico
at Northern Lebanon

League
5/05
4:15 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Donegal

League
5/07
4:15 pm
Manheim Central
at Northern Lebanon

League
5/10
4:15 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Garden Spot

League
5/12
4:15 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lebanon

Nonleague

Lancaster-Lebanon League

Section Three Standings

LeagueOverall
WLPCTWLPCTRSRA
Manheim Central401.000401.000408
Northern Lebanon401.000401.0004322
Donegal210.667220.500388
Garden Spot320.600330.5003824
Cocalico130.250130.2503324
Octorara040.000040.0001142
Elco040.000050.0002335

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