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Warwick puts it all together vs. Ephrata Softball
By: TODD RUTH Record Staff firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
After falling to Hempfield last Wednesday in an early season battle of unbeatens, Warwick Coach Don Miller wanted to see a more intense and consistent approach from his team Monday afternoon in a Section One-Two crossover game at Ephrata.
Offensively, the Lady Warriors pounded out 12 hits and took advantage of eight Ephrata errors as they scored in every frame but one. Pitching-wise, junior Tessa Eckman did the job as well, scattering five hits with eight strikeouts as it all added up to a lopsided 15-2 , six-inning Warwick victory.
"To win the section we are going to have to continue to ratchet up the intensity in how we approach game day," Miller said following the win. "This game was a good start but we need to continue to improve our preparation for the game and our execution of fundamentals. I have no doubt we have the ability to win our section, but we need to match our effort with our ability to get the job done."
They certainly did that on this day, despite a bit of a slow start.
Ephrata sophomore pitcher Jenna Yarger matched Eckman early on. Yarger did allow a lead-off triple to Warwick’s Madi Derr, who led her team with three hits. Derr would come around to score one out later on a squeeze bunt by Victoria Byler. But Yarger got a pair of strikeouts to end the Warwick threat.
Yarger would then tie the game in the bottom of the first when she led off with a single and scored on a two-out hit by Kaylee Sweigart. However, that turned out to be all the damage Eckman would allow the rest of the way.
After failing to score in the second inning, Warwick got some clutch offensive at bats in the third and fourth to finally break this one open.
The big blow came with two outs in the third when Cassidy Godber laced a two-out double to right-center to score both Byler and Lacey Lefever to put Warwick on top at 3-1. Then in the fourth, August Mason knocked in one run on a sacrifice fly before Lefever drove another run home on a fielder’s choice to suddenly make it 5-1.
"Cass’s (double) did make a huge difference," Miller said. "It was a two-out, two-run double that broke a tie so it gave us the lead and a little breathing room. I think the two runs scored in the next inning to make it 5-1 really made the difference as far as giving us confidence. After that fourth inning, the wheels kind of came off defensively for Ephrata, but they were definitely battling us for the first three or four innings."
Warwick hits and Lady Mount miscues led to the Lady Warriors tacking on four more runs in fifth and six more in the sixth to salt this one away.
"That was our worst showing of errors all year," Ephrata Coach Dan Jones said. "We’ve been holding teams to less than two errors a game but (today) we just fell apart."
Yarger went the distance for Ephrata, finishing with four K’s and six walks, but could have fared a lot better according to Miller.
"I thought we got off to a slow start but we did finally put the ball in play consistently after the second inning," Miller said. "Jenna struck out two to end the first and two to end the second to stop any rally we could have got going early but we didn’t strike out after that.
"I thought Jenna pitched a really good game…she’s quite a competitor. We benefited from a lot of errors, that had those balls been fielded cleanly, we would have been looking at a lot closer game. She kept her poise throughout and kept battling and that’s a tribute to her because that’s tough for a pitcher to do when a team commits eight errors. I also thought we did a good job of staying focused. It was one of our better efforts of the year."
In addition to Derr, Godber and Karlie Watson also had multiple hit games for Warwick, finishing with two hits each.
Yarger and Hannah Raezer each had two hits to account for four of the five base knocks for the Lady Mounts.
While Warwick prepares to battle for a title run in the second half of the season, it will be back to the drawing board for the Lady Mounts.
Despite the losing record, Jones still feels his squad is headed on the right track.
"I think we are a much better team than we have been in the past," he said. "We are still young in some key positions but those players are only going to get better. The thing that has been a little disappointing is we have not hit like we thought we would. We knew we were going to be giving up three to five runs a game and we were really expecting our bats to flourish. There have been moments of greatness but we really have to find the right batting lineup, and have the three, four and five hitters put the ball in play and score some runs. That’s been hurting us because they are not producing as we thought they would or as they did last year.
"We still expect our batting to flourish as we go through the second half of the season," he continued. "It hasn’t shown in the results so far but compared to this time last year, the number of errors are down, the team batting average is up, Jenna is pitching better and Kirsten Kauffman is probably one of the better catchers in the L-L League. There are a lot of good things. We just got to string some hits together and score some runs and we’ll be fine."
Last Wednesday, April 10, Hempfield broke open a 4-2 lead with three in the bottom of the fourth and went on to beat Warwick 8-4 in Landisville, handing the Lady Warriors their first league loss.
Warwick took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second off Hempfield pitcher Popalis, but the Lady Knights answered with two in their half and never relinquished the lead. Popalis helped her own cause with a home run. Ashley Royer was 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI’s and Victoria Byler went 3-for-4 with two runs scored to lead Warwick’s offense. Tessa Eckman suffered the complete-game loss. She allowed 11 hits while striking out two and walking one. More LADY WARRIORS, page B-5