Elizabethtown put the early pressure on Brynne Baker, loading the bases in the first inning of the L-L softball championship game.
Lampeter-Strasburg’s senior righthander rose to the occasion.
Baker threw a 1-1 rise ball to Hayden Calaman, who fouled out to first baseman Gabby Drumm for the second out, then got a ground out to end the threat.
The Pioneers scored three times in the bottom of the inning and went on to defeat the Bears, 9-1, Thursday at Millersville University’s Seaber Softball Stadium.
The title was the fourth overall for the Pioneers, who increased their season standard to 22-0, and their first since 2014.
“It’s a few,” said L-S coach Gene Charles, “my first one at the helm.”
The Pioneers, who owned two previous decisions over the Bears (14-9) this season — 13-0 and 10-2 — never let that enter the equation.
“We told the girls, this is a totally different team,” Charles said. “They’re doing something right right now. We have to forget those first two games and play the way we can play.”
“I was kind of nervous, especially since they beat Donegal and Warwick,” said Drumm, whose two-run triple keyed a six-run third inning that sealed E-town’s fate.
Just as with Penn Manor in Wednesday’s semifinal — where the first three Comets reached — Baker surrendered hits to three of the first four batters Thursday.
The Bears would get four more the rest of the way.
Alyssa Hamilton singled and, with one out, Kristin Geesey singled. Then Haylee Calaman beat out an infield single to load the bases.
“I try not to get rattled, stay calm and throw my pitches,” Baker said. “I just try to really focus on not letting them in. Throwing as much to spots as I can.”
She hit the spot on hayden Calaman and Drumm circled under the pop with glee.
“I really like fouls balls,” she said. “It’s not as much pressure if I drop it. But, you never know with the spin.”
Coming up empty was deflating for the Bears. “We were thinking we were going to come out here and score some runs tonight,” said head coach Gary Wylde.
It would be L-S doing the scoring as Summer Peters hit an RBI triple, Chloe Blantz singled in a run and Cam Byler plated the third run with a fielder’s choice bunt.
L-S batted around plus-one in the third, Drumm’s triple igniting the inning.
“My first at bat I struck out looking , which was not great,” she said.
That wasn’t going to happen again. “I had a really good first pitch and I swung at it,” she said. “I didn’t even know where it went.”
It went to the right field corner, chasing home Blantz and courtesy runner Megan Tagagert.
Daisy Frank singled in Drumm. Two batters later Jocelyn Branco drove in Frank. Julz Garber drove in a run before Peters closed the scoring with an RBI double.
“I look at all those batters, they’re tough outs,” said Wylde. “When they got six, they had some shots, but they were finding some spots.”
“We had two big innings, it was enough today,” Charles said.
The Bears broke through in the second as Jess Zimmerman singled, was sacrificed to second and took third on a ground out, scoring on a wild pitch.
They had a golden opportunity in the fourth as Hayden Calaman had a leadoff single and Sadie Seamen doubled to the fence in center.
But Blantz stabbed Zimmerman’s liner headed for center, Baker got two strikeouts and the moment passed.
“We hit the ball,” said Wylde, “it’s just that we didn’t have any timely hits.”
Baker finished with a no-walk, seven-strikeout seven hitter.
“Brynne was sharper today,’ said Charles. “Sometimes when she throws two days in a row, and she’s a little tired, her ball moves a little more.
“Her drop ball today was fantastic. she set everything up with that.”