Following a surprising loss to Wilson to open up the year, the Elizabethtown Area High School softball team needed a couple of wins to get back on the right track. Fortunately for the Lady Bears, they were mostly successful before running into a state-champion buzzsaw.
Elizabethtown had its first Section Two game of the season at home at Solanco on Wednesday, March 27. Last season, the Mules won the section, was a co-league champion alongside Donegal, finished third in Class 5A for District 3 and finished as a state playoff semifinalist. Elizabethtown was undeterred by all of that, however, brutalizing Solanco for a 13-2 victory in five innings.
The damage began in the top of the second inning, where the Lady Bears batted around to the tune of 5 runs. Junior Haylee Calaman, junior Erin Heffleger and sophomore Megan Gray all had RBI singles, and a Mules error plated two more.
Solanco benefited from some Elizabethtown fielding miscues in the third inning to score two runs and cut the game to 5-2. However, the Mules faltered defensively themselves in the top of the fourth, committing two errors that allowed three Lady Bears runs.
The top of the fifth turned out to be the dagger; Solanco suffered through two more errors as Elizabethtown batted around again. The Mules could not score in the bottom of the inning, forcing the mercy rule.
Sophomore Kristin Geesey allowed just 3 hits and 3 runs (none earned), picking up 2 strikeouts as well. Junior Hayden Calaman had as many as Solanco had overall to lead the Lady Bears; her sister Haylee scored thrice as well.
Gray, Heffleger and junior courtesy runner Bri McCaulley each had 2 runs. Junior Alyssa Hamilton finished with a game-high 2 RBIs, while Hayden Calaman, Gray, Heffleger, junior Makenzie Cummings and freshman Jessie Zimmerman each notched one.
Senior Sierra Dean had 2 of Solanco’s 3 hits. She also pitched the entire game for the Mules, allowing 11 hits.
The team went on the road Friday, March 29, to face Conestoga Valley. The first three innings did not go fruitfully for the Lady Bears; none of their nine players reached base during that time. The Buckskins were able to take a 1-0 lead in the second inning after junior Montana Habecker scored off a single from sophomore Olivia Mollinger.
Then, the game took a turn in the top of the fourth. Senior Sadie Seaman nailed a one-out double to plate Hayden Calaman and freshman courtesy runner Karissa Rankin. She was replaced by sophomore courtesy runner Chloe Garner, who came home on a Gray double immediately afterward.
Later, with the bases loaded, Gray came in on a wild pitch. Cummings then sent the other two runners home with a double. Zimmerman plated a run with an infield single, followed by Rankin scoring on another wild pitch. In all, Elizabethtown had 8 runs via 12 batters in the inning.
Seaman began the fifth by sending the ball over the right-field fence for a solo home run to put the score at 9-1. Cummings would score in the sixth thanks to a fielding error as well. Conestoga Valley attempted a comeback in the final frame, with junior Jackie McBride hitting an RBI triple then scoring on a single from freshman Laken Smith, but by then it was too late, and the Lady Bears came out with the 10-3 victory.
Thanks to her double and home run, Seaman led all players with 3 RBIs. Eight different players had runs for Elizabethtown, with Cummings and Ranking both scoring twice. Geesey went the entire way on the mound, allowing 11 hits but just 3 earned runs. She struck out 4 batters.
Smith had a game-high 3 hits for the Buckskins. Habecker pitched all seven innings, allowing 7 hits and 10 runs (5 earned). She did finish with 7 strikeouts.
Lastly, the Lady Bears had yet another away game on Monday, April 1, at Lampeter-Strasburg. The Pioneers were the PIAA Class 5A Champions last season, and they looked the part in this one, scoring twice in the opening inning after senior Brynne Baker got an RBI double to score junior Julz Garber, then came home on another double from Baker.
L-S increased its lead in the second with a Garber double that brought in junior Gabby Drumm. The wheels fell off for Elizabethtown during the third; with the bases loaded, sophomore Cameron Byler drew a walk, and junior Jocelyn Branco followed that up with a bases-clearing triple.
Byler singled in junior Summer Peters and sophomore Chole Blantz during the fourth. She would score along with junior Taryn Hostetter and sophomore Daisy Frank on a double from Branco, who then came in on another Garber double. Thus, L-S was able to force the mercy rule and win 13-0.
Offensively, the Lady Bears could get nothing going; Hayden Calaman had the team’s lone hit on the day, which came in the final inning. Geesey lasted until the middle of the third on the mound; she walked 4 batters. Hamilton took over in relief for the rest of the game.
Baker was stout at pitcher for L-S, striking out 5 batters. Garber and Byler each had 3 hits for the Pioneers. The latter scored twice, as did Drumm, Hostetter and Frank.
Elizabethtown (2-2) is scheduled to have three home games in as many days against Lebanon on Wednesday, April 3, Mechanicsburg on Thursday, April 4, and Ephrata on Friday, March 5. The Mechanicsburg game was previously postponed from Friday, March 22. The Lady Bears will then go to Manheim Township on Monday, April 8.