Hempfield holds off Lady Warriors, 3-1

By on May 11, 2016
During fourth-inning action on Monday, Warwick's Nicole Mengel advances to third on a Hempfield error. Mengel later scored the Lady Warriors' only run, crossing the plate on Alyssa Christi's RBI base hit.

During fourth-inning action on Monday, Warwick’s Nicole Mengel advances to third on a Hempfield error. Mengel later scored the Lady Warriors’ only run, crossing the plate on Alyssa Christi’s RBI base hit.

Fighting for its District Three Quad-A playoff lives, the Warwick softball team began the final week of the regular season with urgency.

Three games in three days got underway with Section One rival Hempfield on Monday night.

But the Lady Black Knights, just one game behind Penn Manor in the Section One title chase, had their own motivation as well.

On this night, Hempfield scored a couple of unearned runs and rode the right arm of pitcher Lauren Lichtenwalner to a 3-1 Section One victory over the Lady Warriors under the lights in Lititz.

“It was just kind of a combination where we pitched well and played well, we just didn’t execute a couple things defensively,” Warwick coach Mark Hough said. “And we had second and third with one out (in the first inning) and didn’t get those runs in. That kinda hurts when you don’t score there.”

With the loss, the Warwick girls fell to 8-6 L-L (9-8 overall), while Hempfield improve to 13-2, 14-5. As of deadline, the Lady Warriors were 17th in the District power ratings, with the top 16 advancing.

“I don’t think we came in with the mindset that we could lose tonight and not be worried about it,” said Hough, whose squad ends the regular season with games against Manheim Township and McCaskey. “I think we looked at all three games as must-wins. The nature of the score, 3-1, wasn’t necessarily bad, but still we can’t hang our heads. We have to be ready to come out tomorrow ready to play.”

Hempfield scored all three of its runs off of WHS pitcher Amanda Herr with two outs. In the first inning, shortstop Bree Wingett singled to right, took second on a ground out and then scored on a Warwick fielding error on Kara Cook’s grounder.

Lichtenwalner, meanwhile, pitched out of a jam in the bottom of the first to preserve the 1-0 lead. Kate Seibert won a 10-pitch battle with an infield single, then Jo High singled to left and stole second, putting runners at second and third with one out.

The Lady Warriors, though, failed to convert. A Bucknell University recruit, Lichtenwalner, mixing a solid fastball with a lethal change-up, finished the game with seven K’s, while walking none and yielding six hits on exactly 100 pitches.

“Lauren pitched real well. She’s such a competitor. I’m glad she’s going to Bucknell. I wish she would have enrolled early,” Hough quipped. “She’s a great kid.”

Lichtenwalner showed that competitiveness at the plate as well in the top of the third, driving a triple to the right-center field gap to plate Wingett (2-for-2, 2 runs). When Cook’s fly ball was dropped, allowing Lichtenwalner to score, it was 3-0.

For the game, Herr yielded just one earned run on seven hits, while finishing with no walks and no K’s.

Warwick got on the scoreboard in the fourth on a rally starting with Nicole Mengel’s (2-for-3) base hit. With two outs, Marissa Treibley singled to right field and both runners advanced when the ball was bobbled. Alyssa Christi then squared up an RBI single to center, making it 3-1, but Lichtenwalner limited the damage.

“I think her change-up tonight really worked well,” Hough said. “I think we had three or four hitters who were 0-2 and we knew she was coming with the change-up and she still disguised it and the kids were way out in front of it.”

That change-up remained efficient over the last threeframes, as Lichtenwalner retired 10 of the final 11 batters she faced, striking out the side in the seventh to put a bow on Hempfield’s win.

“We’re fighting and I think we’ve been hitting the ball well,” Hough said. “ We just obviously didn’t execute it tonight. But I told the girls, we can’t let this game get us down because we’ve got to come out (Tuesday) night and play Township and have fire and be ready to go.”

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