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Warwick looks to gain momentum with win over CV
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
The Warwick softball team might be going in reverse.
And that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
In previous seasons, the eight-time reigning Section One champion Lady Warriors have started the season fast, only to fizzle when they got to the post-season.
This spring, Warwick found itself at 5-4 after falling to Hempfield on Wednesday, April 10. Since that time, however, the Warwick girls have won three of their last four games, and if Monday’s 5-1 crossover win against Section Two leading Conestoga Valley and its ace pitcher Nicole Allen is any indication, they might be finding their rhythm.
"I was telling (the players), ‘Looking at our record, we needed to beat a good team. That’s a good start,’" Warwick coach Don Miller said. "We needed to start winning games and tonight was a good building block.’
With the win, Warwick improved to 7-2 in Section One (8-5 overall) and remained two games behind Section front-runner Hempfield (9-0 L-L), a 4-3 winner over Solanco on Monday. With seven games left in the regular season, the Lady Warriors are currently 18th in the District Three Quad-A power rankings.
"Tonight, (coach Miller) huddled us together and we couldn’t lose this game," Warwick senior third baseman Madi Derr said. "We needed to get our heads in this game and beat a good team, so that’s what we came out here to do."
"It’s in (Hempfield’s) hands," Miller said of the Section One race. "We can only hope someone knocks them off and we get a chance to beat them at the end. But at this point, we’ve got to keep winning just to get in the playoffs. It’s a new situation for us … We’ve done it for awhile now where we start off pretty hot and the last two years we didn’t finish very strong. So maybe it’s just a reversal this year. It’s better to finish strong. We had to work through some stuff early on, but we’re coming together now."
Cassidy Godber was on base all four plate appearances against Allen, going 3-for-3 with a walk, and Nikole Rottkamp went 2-for-4 with an RBI double behind pitcher Tessa Eckman, who scattered seven hits for the complete-game decision. Eckman also benefited from a tremendous fifth-inning double play turned by Derr, who stretched out to grab Lily Beamenderfer’s bunt pop-up, then fired to first to get CV base runner Becky Felegy, helping Warwick protect a 2-0 lead at the time.
"I knew she was going to bunt, so my instinct was just to get on the ground and go for it," Derr said, "and I knew (Felegy) was on first and I knew she took off right away. So as soon as I got the ball, I looked at first and Karla (Watson) was there (covering the bag)."
"That was awesome — that was a game-changer right there," Miller said of Derr’s double play. "Just the effort she put forth there, that was a great play."
The Lady Warriors also got some great efforts at the plate from different players against Allen, who worked 11 three-ball counts and finished the night throwing 135 pitches. After Ashley Royer walked and scored the game’s first run on a wild pitch in the second inning, she slammed a third-inning RBI double to drive in Rottkamp to make it 2-0.
Then in the bottom of the fifth, Rottkamp slammed a one-hop run-scoring double off the fence in left-center, plating Godber who singled to right and advanced to second on Victoria Byler’s sac bunt.
"They have been phenomenal," Derr said of Royer and Rottkamp in the middle of the batting order. "They have been two of our good consistent hitters. They can always bomb ’em, so they’ve been such a wonderful help and such a great addition to the team."
In the bottom of the sixth, Warwick added two insurance runs while making Allen work through a 40-pitch inning. Lacey Lefever and Jenny George worked one-out walks, and after Derr dropped a base hit into shallow center, Lefever scored on a CV throwing error. Two batters later, with the bases loaded, courtesy runner Jordan May scored when Byler’s fly to right was dropped. Allen finished the game giving up seven hits and seven walks.
"The fact that we kept putting the pressure on and kept getting base runners and getting some clutch base hits, that was huge for us," Miller said.
"When all of our heads are in it, we’re a good team," Derr said. "Everybody played on their A-game tonight and it was good to see us come out with a win."
The Lady Bucks spoiled Eckman’s shutout with an unearned run in the top of the seventh. Miranda Muza (2-for-3) led off and singled to right, advanced to second on a throwing error and scored on Beamenderfer’s sac fly. But it was too little, too late against Eckman, who struck out five and walked just one on 70 total pitches.
"Tessa’s been pitching great," Miller said. "Her ball’s got a lot of movement right now and she bears down. She’s just a tough competitor."
Last Wednesday, April 17, Eckman and Solanco’s Kortnee Kreider found themselves locked in a old-fashioned pitcher’s duel. In the end, the Mares pushed across a run in the top of the sixth inning and held on for a 1-0 win in a Section One-Two crossover in Lititz.
Sophomore Ashley Royer had two of Warwick’s four hits off of Kreider, but the Lady Warriors were unable to capitalize. Eckman allowed just three hits, while striking out five and walking none. But Solanco scored in the top of the sixth and held on. More LADY WARRIORS, page B-4