L-L SOFTBALL: Solanco outslugs rival Bears - LancasterOnline: Sports

L-L SOFTBALL: Solanco outslugs rival Bears

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Posted: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 10:52 pm | Updated: 6:50 pm, Thu Sep 12, 2013.

Brett Miller did not have to say a word to his Solanco softball team.

They knew the importance of Wednesday's showdown with Elizabethtown.

At stake: First place in L-L Section Two and a likely berth in league playoffs, which start in nine days.

Win and the Golden Mares were tournament bound. Lose, fall into a three-way tie with E-town and Conestoga Valley and face a playoff labyrinth next week.

"It really doesn't matter what the records are," offered Miller, "because it's E-town-Solanco. When you say rivalry, this is what it is."

The rivalry turned another page Wednesday in Quarryville as Solanco (12-2 L-L, 15-3 overall) slugged the Lady Bears 8-4 to put a hammerlock on first place.

When CV claimed a 5-1 win over Solanco on Monday it put E-town (10-4, 13-5) in an uncomfortable position: Win out or wait for districts.

The Bears' comfort level sank lower Wednesday afternoon as the Mares unwrapped an 11-hit attack.

Allowing one hit through six innings, Haley Neff had more than enough cushion to withstand a late E-town rally.

"It's always nice to play E-town … with the game on the line," said Neff. "We've been thinking about it all season. This was a game we had to win."

The Mares had baserunners in every inning -\!q 19 in all - taking advantage of some loose play by the Bears and four free passes.

"We came out with our bats," said Neff, "which was something we didn't have Monday night."

"We didn't have a good performance on Monday, all around," said Miller.

An opinion he reinforced in Tuesday's practice.

"I think that helped for this game," added Miller, dryly.

The Mares broke on top in the second inning as Kate Herr stroked Solanco's first hit, a double to the gap in right.

"We were all like, 'Whoa! We've got to follow up with that,'" said Neff.

The bottom half of the Mares' lineup set the table as Brittany Fisher and Maribeth Ault, the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters, respectively, worked back-to-back walks and Chelsea Crandall chased two runs home with a single to right center.

In all, the six through nine hitters - Katelyn Maule, Herr, Fisher and Ault - reached base seven times in 16 plate appearances.

"They find a way to get on," said Miller. "We had some good swings on some decent pitches. The next thing you know, you're running around the bases."

Neff kept the inning running, doubling in two more to help herself to a four-run lead.

The teams traded unearned runs in the third inning. Kortnee Kreider singled in a run in the Mare fourth and Kreider and Neff each had a ribbie in the fifth as the advantage stretched to 8-1.

As Neff took the circle for the seventh, Miller delivered a message, "This is far from over."

True to the warning, E-town stirred. With two on and two out, down to her last strike, Val Harnly singled home Sam Swift, turning the lineup over for Caryn Bailey.

Bailey, the league's home run leader with nine, dragged an 0-for-3 to the plate.

But she'd made good contact the at-bat before and made better this time, smashing a two-run triple to deep center.

"She got the best of me that at-bat," said Neff, who proceeded to retire Dunkelberger on a great play by Crandall, going to her left in the hole at second to end the game.

dbyrne@lnpnews.com

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