Another MC team making a name in the playoffs
OK, I’m not making excuses. I’m really not.
Covering sports for a living is a pretty good gig. It’s actually been a fairly long time since I’ve paid to watch a high school game.
That being said, it gets hectic at the height of certain sports seasons, particularly during the spring and fall when there are so many sports that deserve ink. I share the same philosophy as my colleague at the Ephrata Review, Todd Ruth, to just try to be as fair as we can.
As the regular season comes to a close and as the non-playoff teams hang up their equipment for the year, it affords me more time to cover the last couple of local squads that are still competing in the playoffs.
This year, the Manheim Central softball team has fallen into that category and it’s been fun getting to know them a little bit better in the last few weeks. They are hoping to play — and win — three more games this year, starting with the State quarterfinals against Lansdale Catholic tonight (Thursday).
But regardless of what happens the rest of the way, they’ve had a tremendous season. Nobody will ever be able to take away from them the fact that they were the first team in Manheim Central softball history to capture the District Three Triple-A championship.
I remember talking to head coach Steve Ginder back in early April and him telling me that they were hoping to turn the corner very shortly. At that point, they were 1-2 in the league season.
That seems like a long, long time ago right now. And based on their 19-1 record over their last 20 games, I guess you could say that somewhere, somehow, they officially turned the corner. And they’ve had some cardiac moments along the way. Take their District semi-final game last Tuesday, May 31 when they rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the late innings to beat Greencastle-Antrim.
And then there was the Lady Barons’ PIAA State opener on Monday, as they left Pottsgrove off the hook repeatedly for most of the game, only to earn a walk-off 2-1 win in the bottom of the seventh inning.
In the District Three championship game last Thursday, Central beat Donegal in a more conventional manner — they took the early lead, and although they didn’t get a lot of hits off of Kelsey Hannold, it was enough.
Alexa Campbell and her ankle-breaking changeup had a lot to do with that. The senior ace changed speeds masterfully and her changeup was nearly unhittable.
Someone seated nearby made a comment during the game to the effect that Campbell might be the best player in the L-L League this season, considering how much she does for her team. If you think about it, he might have a point.
Granted, I haven’t seen all of the teams in the League this year. But given the Lady Barons’ success — they are the Section Three champs, L-L silver medalists, District Three champs and a State quarterfinalist — you could certainly make an argument for it.
The IUP recruit has been a workhorse on the mound for the Lady Barons, taking the ball game in and game out and never giving up too much. In eight post-season games, she has yielded two runs or fewer in seven of those and has allowed only 12 total runs. Besides that, Campbell provides spark for the Central girls’ batting lineup, hitting leadoff and setting the tone at the top of the order.
Campbell and Manheim Central’s other two seniors — slick fielding and hard-hitting shortstop Sam Ginder and Victoria Farkas — have no more than three games left in their high school careers, but they are making the most of their final year. Bruce Morgan
Sports Editor More MORGAN, page B-4