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The future arrived early for the Northern Lebanon softball team. 

IMG_3582BY JEFF FALK

FREDERICKSBURG – Young club. New skipper. Tough circuit.

When you put it in those terms, suddenly the expression ‘making it to districts’ takes on a whole new meaning.

On a clear Wednesday evening on its home diamond, the Northern Lebanon softball team clinched a well earned trip to the postseason with a 4-0 non-league whitewashing of Halifax, in its regular season finale. The Vikings used the pitching of junior Melanie Showers and spotless defense to shut down the Wildcats, and accentuated their performance some opportunistic offense.

IMG_3519With the win, Northern Lebanon improved to 12-8 overall. It also assured the Vikings, who were rated seventh in the latest power rankings, a trip to the District Three Class AAAA playoffs, a feat that seemed unlikely at the beginning of the year.

Northern Lebanon will open play in the District Three tournament on either May 23rd or May 25th, against an opponent and a site yet to be determined.

The setback dropped Halifax to 7-10 on the season.

IMG_3511“I think we would’ve been in if we would’ve lost, but there’s no sense not being sure,” said Ed Spittle, the Vikings’ 72-year-old first-year head coach. “And it could improve our standing. At the beginning of the season, if someone would’ve said we’d be 12-8, you could’ve gotten odds in Vegas. I would’ve said, ‘Let’s take your temperature’. But this was one of my goals.

“I knew we were going to be young and inexperienced,”  continued Spittle. “This was a prize we could get, but we had to win the games we should win. We did that, with one exception. This is going to be a treat. They (his players) certainly have earned it. Who knows? You play well, get on a roll and all of sudden you’re playing for a bigger prize than you anticipated.”

“Today it was important to win to stay up in the rankings,” said Showers. “Coming in, I felt like we were in. I think we’re doing pretty well. We’re doing better than last year. There’s a couple things we need to work on, and things we need to work on as a team.”

The score was tied at zero until the bottom of the third, when the Vikings parlayed back-to-back lead-off singles from Kaylee Mauser and Brooke Graby into the game’s first run. It took a two-out error by Halifax to get the job done.

Then in the fourth, Northern Lebanon extended its lead to two runs. Showers started it with a triple, and Allyson Hazy picked up an RBI with a sacrifice fly to center.

“We swung the bats well today,” said Spittle. “We hit the ball hard. I thought up and down the lineup we swung the bats very well. I was happy to see that. They (the Wildcats) have a nice team.

“Against the premiere teams, we struggled and our youth showed more,” Spittle added. “Against pitching we can handle, we swung the bats well. The bigger, older girls can dominate you. But this may be what the doctor ordered.”

IMG_3514“I wasn’t on as much as I usually am, but I did pretty well,” said Showers. “We should’ve scored more runs than we did. We had more opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of. But our defense was very good.”

Showers yielded five safeties, but only multiple hits in one frame – the sixth. They were back-to-back lead-off singles, but Showers got the next three Wildcats to pop out.

Showers, who was recently tabbed a Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Three first-team all-star by the league’s coaches, fanned seven and issued a pair of free passes.

IMG_3475“We played pretty well,” said Spittle. “I don’t know if we made an error. I thought we were solid defensively, and Mel was her usual self on the mound. The thing we could’ve done better was score a few more runs.

“The big surprise this season has been our pitching,” added Spittle. “Mel has thrown some outstanding games. You get some solid performances when she takes the rubber.”

“The key for me is just staying focused and taking it one pitch at a time,” said Showers. “Because if you don’t, you can lose track of the one you’re working on.

“I thought I started out the season really strong,” continued Showers. “But I don’t feel like I’ve finished as strong. I’m going to keep working for districts.”

The Vikings bunched three hits to score a pair of insurance tallies in the bottom of the sixth. Sophomore Sydney Mengel, another Section Three first-team all-star, and Mauser both drove home runs, after Showers had got things going with a double.

IMG_3555“After the first two or three practices I said to my daughter ‘What did you get me into?’,” said Spittle. “I wish we would’ve taken film of how we looked the first week, and then show it to them (his players) now. They have been real receptive. I think they’ve bought into what we’re trying to teach them.

“They soak it up, and get better because of it,” Spittle continued. “I think we’re kind of hitting our stride. They’ve (his players) been a surprise, and it’s been a pleasant surprise. Age isn’t a factor. They’ll listen to an old guy.”

“If we could win, that would be outstanding,” said Showers of districts. “We’re going into each game focused on one batter at a time.”

Mauser, freshman Taylor Douple and freshman Hannah Bashore received honorable mentions during the Section Three coaches’ all-star voting.

 

 

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 To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to https://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/photo-gallery/.

 

 

 

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 2017 Northern Lebanon Results

 

Date Teams RESULTS
3/24
4:15 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Cedar Crest
3/30
4:15 pm
Hamburg
at Northern Lebanon
4/03
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Manheim Central
1
11
4/05
4:15 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Elco
8
1
4/07
4:15 pm
Cocalico
at Northern Lebanon
5
6
4/10
4:15 pm
Donegal
at Northern Lebanon
1
0
4/12
4:15 pm
Lampeter-Strasburg
at Northern Lebanon
11
0
4/13
4:15 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lebanon Catholic
15
0
4/17
4:15 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Northern Lebanon
3
0
4/19
4:15 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Mennonite
15
0
4/21
4:15 pm
Pequea Valley
at Northern Lebanon
3
0
4/24
4:15 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Columbia
15
3
4/26
4:15 pm
Lancaster Catholic
at Northern Lebanon
3
5
4/27
4:15 pm
Manheim Central
at Northern Lebanon
4
2
5/01
4:15 pm
Elco
at Northern Lebanon
1
2
5/03
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
Cocalico
at Manetas Park, Denver
7
2
5/08
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
Lampeter-Strasburg
at Garrett Field, Willow Street
1
9
5/09
4:15 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Donegal
0
15
5/10
4:15 pm
Halifax H.S.
at Northern Lebanon
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 PIAA District Three
 Class AAAA Power Rankings
AAAA School  W  L  T  Rating
1 West Perry 14- 2- 0  0.698007
2 Kennard Dale 12- 2- 0  0.687225
3 East Pennsboro 13- 2- 0  0.670898
4 Bishop McDevitt 12- 6- 0  0.633573
5 Eastern York 12- 5- 0  0.631306
6 Littlestown 12- 6- 0  0.608471
7 Northern Lebanon 11- 8- 0  0.571843
8 Hamburg 10- 9- 0  0.562243
9 James Buchanan 7- 10- 0  0.525600
10 West York 7- 12- 0  0.499195
11 Lancaster Catholic 9- 10- 0  0.483757
12 Eastern Lebanon County 6- 13- 0  0.430129
13 Schuylkill Valley 7- 13- 0  0.417374
14 Boiling Springs 2- 9- 0  0.389432
15 Fleetwood 4- 15- 0  0.380967
16 York Suburban 3- 9- 0  0.364912
17 Berks Catholic 4- 13- 0  0.360062
18 Susquehanna Township 2- 13- 0  0.348935
19 Bermudian Springs 2- 16- 0  0.307028
20 Wyomissing 3- 15- 0  0.294471
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