The best season in Columbia softball history came to a heated end last Tuesday afternoon at Millersville University.
Under the blazing sun, the Crimson Tide lost to Annville-Cleona 8-3 in the District Three Class AA semifinals. Had the Tide beat the Little Dutchmen, they would have advanced to the district championship. Instead, the Tide, who won their first-ever Lancaster-Lebanon League section title, are left with just memories from an 18-5 season.
And one could very well say, the weather had an affect on the game. In the brutally hot late afternoon softball game, neither team played at a championship level and neither pitcher, Emily Detz for the Tide or Alyssa Montalvo for A-C had their best stuff. Montalvo threw more than 120 pitches through the first five innings of the game. Detz' pitch count stood at 81 through six.
This was a “would have, should have” game, particularly for the Tide. “Would have” as in if the Tide would have gotten a big hit here and there, or would have made a play in the field, they “should have” probably won.
The “would haves” started in the first inning.
Detz quickly got the first two outs when A-C's number three hitter Haley Hirn ripped a hit just inside the third base bag, just past Jenna Plastino. The Tide's hot corner player stayed with the ball and gunned down Hirn going to second for the third out. However, the first base umpire called obstruction on the Tide's Valessa Carollo, keeping the inning alive. As fate would have it, Kaylynn McKinney roped a double off Kayla Lambert's glove, allowing the first run to score.
In their half of the first with two outs, Lambert and Ashlyn Phillips walked and moved up a base on a Montalvo wild pitch. But for the first time and not the last time in the game, Montalvo got out of the inning with a strikeout.
It was the first of 14 runners left on base for the Tide.
In the second, the Tide tied the game and was left looking for more, Alex Slick with one out roped a double to the opposite field and moved to third when Emily Groft's comebacker to Montalvo was misplayed. With one out, the Tide had the makings of a big inning. When Jenai Plowden reached base on A-C's second error of the inning, Detz was able to work Montalv for a walk to tie the game at one. But Montalvo was able to fan the next two batters and the Tide wad left with another empty feeling.
In the third, A-C pushed ahead 2-1. Mistakes hurt the Tide. A-C's first batter, Crystal Miller reached when Groft and Carollo collided on an infield pop. She was erased on a fielder's choice off the bat of Casey Ditzler, Following a single off the bat of Alex Reidinger, Detz got Hirn on a pop to second and it looked good for the Tide when Detz fanned McKinney for what could have been the third out, but the ball scooted past Tide catcher Phillips, who recovered to throw the ball to first. In a bang-bang play, the umpire ruled the A-C batter safe and Ditzler sprinted home from second with the go ahead run.
At that point, both A-C runs were unearned.
Outside of a walk to Plastino in the third, the Tide went down easily.
One of the game's biggest turning points was the fourth. A-C reached Detz for four hits and three runs, all with two outs. Jannell Bowman doubled off the outstretched arms of Seibert to center and it looked like the Tide was going to get out of the inning when on a comebacker, the Tide got the out at first and appeared to have the double play, getting Bowman attempting to go to third, but on a bang-bang play, the Tide didn't get the call and the inning continued. Ditzler and Reidinger singled and the Tide fell behind 5-1.
Back came the Tide in their half of the fourth.
Groft and Plowden reached on infield hits. With Detz at the dish, she hit the ball to Ditzler, who booted the ball. For the second time in the game, the Tide had the bases juiced, this time with no outs. A fielder's choice off the bat of Seibert forced Groft at home. Lambert then walked to force in a run, giving the Tide new life. But that was the only run the Tide scored as another “would have,” “should have” chance went by the wayside.
A-C got some more base runners in the fifth, but failed to score.
With one out, the Tide got something going in their half of the fifth. With one out, Slick walked and moved to second on Groft's sacrifice bunt. Slick would score when Plowden singled. Following a two-out intentional walk to Detz, Montalvo struck out Seibert to end the inning.
That changed the hole momentum of the game. A-C broke the game open in the top of the sixth, scoring three insurance runs on one solid single, a blooper that found grass and an infield bunt.
Although the Tide got two base runners in their final two at-bats, they never threatened again and saw their magical season end.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
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