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Back to back Lady Barons repeat as Section Three champs
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
With one out in the top of the sixth and the bases loaded against Lampeter-Strasburg last Friday night, Manheim Central coach Steve Ginder gave some thought to pinch-hitting for first-year player Brittany Griffith.
The Lady Barons’ skipper never did, and that turned out to be a good thing.
On an 0-2 pitch from L-S hurler Julie Dostal, Griffith smashed a two-run single up the middle which erased a 2-1 deficit and gave the Central girls a one-run lead.
The game was eventually halted in the top of the seventh due to lightning, and when play never resumed, the Lady Barons put a Section Three-clinching 3-2 win in the books at Willow Street’s Garrett Park. That win, coupled with their 4-1 victory over Garden Spot on Monday, completed a perfect league season for the Central girls (16-0 L-L, 17-3 overall), two games in front of second-place Donegal.
For Manheim Central, it gave them back-to-back Section championships and three in the last four years.
"It’s a good feeling (to win the Section)," MC coach Steve Ginder said. "It’s certainly a goal we wanted to accomplish. I felt with all the returning players, we certainly had a good opportunity to do that."
To close the deal last Friday, they had to overcome an early 2-0 deficit against the Lady Pioneers, who needed to win to keep their L-L playoff hopes alive. L-S cleanup batter Kara Barton stroked a two-run double to left-center in the bottom of the first to drive in Ashley Lechner, who walked, and Ashley Braungard, who reached on an error.
Central got one of those runs back in the top of the third. Leadoff batter Abi Weaver set the table when she singled off of second baseman Kara Barton’s glove and Aerika High worked a one-out walk. Cleanup hitter Katie VanBlargan (2-for-3) then delivered an RBI single to shallow right-center to cut the L-S lead to 2-1.
Dostal, who struck out three, walked two, and gave up six hits, got the start on the mound for the Lady Pioneers after Courtney Martin took the decision in a 6-1 loss to Manheim Central on April 9. Central split in a pair of meetings vs. Dostal in 2011.
"I think Dostal is more their number one pitcher at times, but they do use them both," Ginder said. "Dostal is a senior and has more experience and I think that’s why she got the start."
Meanwhile, MC pitcher Sara McKee settled in after allowing two first-inning runs, allowing just three infield hits the rest of the way while finishing with 10 K’s and one walk.
That gave her teammates a chance to rally with the storm clouds approaching in the top of the sixth inning. High led off with a walk, VanBlargan singled and Erika Campbell beat out a base hit to deep shortstop.
"I figured at some point we were going to start getting the hits to drop in and making some contact," Ginder said, "so I didn’t lose any confidence during the game."
Following a fielder’s choice grounder by Rachel Clippinger, Griffith fell into an 0-2 hole against Dostal and then smashed her next pitch to center to drive in the tying and go-ahead runs.
"That was a great hit," Ginder remarked. "She did it against Donegal, with a clutch hit for the winning RBI’s, and she did it against L-S also."
McKee got stronger as the game went along and pitched a perfect sixth, with two K’s, to preserve the one-run lead.
"After the first inning, we settled down and she started hitting her spots and did well," Ginder said.
On Monday, Griffith and Morton had two hits apiece and Manheim Central concluded the regular season with a 4-1 win over Garden Spot in Manheim.
Griffith hit a leadoff homer and Griffith had an RBI single to give MC a 2-0 lead in the first, and then they added one in the third, as Katelyn Grazan reached on an error and scored on Abby Hahn’s RBI single. In the fifth, Abi Weaver singled, Carla Mohler and Kaitlin Fair walked, and Weaver scored on Miranda Becker’s pop out to deep shortstop.
That was all Campbell needed for the decision, as she struck out 10 and walked none.
Last Wednesday, May 2, McKee struck out 16 and pitched a four-hitter to lead Central in a 5-1 win over Norlebco in Fredericksburg.
McKee made her presence felt with the bat against Lancaster Catholic last Tuesday, May 1, slugging a home run in Central’s 7-2 victory over the Crusaders. Campbell tossed a complete-game five-hitter for the decision. More LADY BARONS, page B-8