Lady Eagles squeeze past Warwick in District playoffs

By on May 21, 2014
On a squeeze bunt play in the bottom of the ninth inning on Tuesday, Cumberland Valley base runner Taylor Krow slides under the tag of Warwick catcher Jenny George for the game-winning run in the Lady Eagles' 7-6 District playoff win in Elizabethtown. Pictured making a play on Rachael Mumma's bunt are Warwick pitcher Lacey Lefever and first baseman Nikole Rottkamp (14).

On a squeeze bunt play in the bottom of the ninth inning on Tuesday, Cumberland Valley base runner Taylor Krow slides under the tag of Warwick catcher Jenny George for the game-winning run in the Lady Eagles’ 7-6 District playoff win in Elizabethtown. Pictured making a play on Rachael Mumma’s bunt are Warwick pitcher Lacey Lefever and first baseman Nikole Rottkamp (14).

Having taken batting practice from former All-Star pitcher Sam Derr, Warwick was prepared for anything in the District Three Quad-A playoffs.

It showed.

The Lady Warriors put up six runs on 11 hits against Cumberland Valley hurlers Jess Moore and Jennifer Hanshaw in their opening-round game on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.

The Lady Eagles battled back from deficits of 4-1, 5-4, and 6-5 to force extra innings.

Finally in the bottom of the ninth inning, CV’s Taylor Krow slugged a leadoff triple to left field and scored on a suicide squeeze, boosting the Lady Eagles to a wild 7-6 victory in a District first-round game at the Elizabethtown Community Park.

“They bunted it well, they played the squeeze perfectly,” Warwick coach Mark Hough said. “It was a (heck) of a game. We could have lost it back in the sixth inning if Rene Ross doesn’t come in with that throw to the plate. I’m so proud of the kids.”

In Hough’s inaugural season at the helm, the 9th-seeded Lady Warriors went 14-7. Eighth-seeded CV (17-5), meanwhile, advances to face the Daniel Boone/CD East winner in Thursday’s quarterfinals.

Warwick liked its chances to be moving on after reaching Moore for four runs in the top of the third. Junior August Mason (2-for-4, 2 runs) smashed a leadoff double down the left field foul line and scored on a throwing error on Tessa Eckman’s sacrifice bunt. After Ashley Royer (2-for-3, 2 BB, 2 runs) walked, Vanessa Strohm laced a two-run triple to right-center and then scored on Victoria Byler’s RBI ground out.

The rally helped offset an early run by CV, as Krow (2-for-5, 3 runs) tripled and scored on Rachael Mumma’s RBI single to left field in the first inning.

“We knew that (Krow) was kind of a slapper and I think we kinda realized that she had a little more pop in her bat after the first inning,” Hough remarked. “But I knew at some point our bats were going to come alive.”

The bat of Alexa Erney certainly came to life when she mashed a leadoff blast to right-center in the bottom of the fourth, highlighting a three-run rally by the Lady Eagles which also included Kara Holtzman’s RBI single to left field.

Lacey Lefever finished the inning in relief of Eckman, who gave up seven hits while striking out two in 3!-E innings.

Hanshaw, a freshman, started the fourth in relief of Moore and retired seven of the first eight batters she faced. But then Mason ripped a two-out triple to left in the sixth and scored on a wild pitch to put Warwick back in front, 5-4.

“The started out where (August) wasn’t playing defensively (due to off-season shoulder surgery) and she was probably a little irritated with me that she didn’t get back in the games defensively as soon as she wanted,” Hough said, “but I couldn’t be prouder of her. We’re losing six seniors, but coming back next year with Ashley and Vanessa and August really makes great leadership and they’ve learned from the best.”

Holtzman’s RBI single tied it for CV in the bottom of the inning, but thanks to the right arm of Ross, throwing out courtesy runner Tiffany Brown trying to score on Raeann Buskey’s hit, the score remained 5-all at inning’s end.

Although Ross might not be a big girl in stature, that certainly doesn’t measure her heart.

“She’s a deceptive player,” Hough said. “I think a lot of people look at her and don’t think she has any power or strength and yet we’ve seen her throw and she’s so quick on her feet that she makes a lot of those plays look really easy.”

Royer, too, is quick on her feet, and her leadoff triple in the seventh, capping a nine-pitch at-bat, and Byler’s RBI single to right put Warwick up 6-5.

The top of the order was due up for CV, though, in the bottom of the inning, and after Krow reached on an error, she scored on Erney’s RBI single to center field to again knot the score, this time 6-6.

It remained that way going to the ninth, and Warwick threatened when Royer worked a six-pitch leadoff free pass from Hanshaw.

Hough had thoughts of sacrificing her into scoring position, but decided to let Strohm (.354), Byler (.485) and Nikole Rottkamp (.397) swing away.

“Vanessa has been our leading RBI hitter and she’s done such a good job that I didn’t want to necessarily take the bat out of her hand,” Hough said. “The top of our order has really done a good job all year and I kinda put my eggs in that basket that they were going to do it again.”

Hanshaw survived the threat and then Krow’s leadoff triple to left in the bottom of the ninth put the Lady Warriors in a tough spot. Lefever K’d Summer Keefer, but Mumma’s put the squeeze down and Krow slid under the tag of Warwick catcher Jenny George with the winning run.

“It was a good game and I’m proud of the kids,” Hough said.

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