Penn Manor vs Manheim Twp.-LL Softball

Penn Manor's Tori Hook (1) is greetd by teammates after hitting a two run home run against Manheim Twp. during 3rd inning action of an LL section one softball game at Manheim Twp. Middle School Wednesday April 7, 2021.

A matchup of two undefeated teams turned into the softball equivalent of last team with the ball wins on Wednesday afternoon in Neffsville.

Penn Manor became the last team with the ball as center fielder Audrey Patterson squeezed Hillary Murse's line drive for the final out of the Comets' 10-8 victory over host Manheim Township.

It was a game that featured — in addition to the 18 runs scored — 23 hits, seven errors and 251 total pitches, and the case could be made the Comets (3-0 Lancaster-Lebanon League Section One, 5-0 overall) survived rather than won.

"I always say, it's a humbling game," Comets coach Dave Stokes said. "Today was just one hiccup after another. But I'm proud of how they kept swinging the bats and fighting back when they had to."

Swing the bats they did, early and often. Patterson and Tori Hook drilled back-to-back homers in the first inning — Patterson to right, Hook to left — Maddy Trout (4-for-4, three runs scored), doubled and Kaelin Gable singled her home as the Comets took a 3-0 lead.

Nonplussed, the Blue Streaks (2-1, 4-1) evened things in their first ups playing go-go ball. Maddie Rineer and Taylor Kittleman (3-for-4) singled and, with one out, Rineer stole third. With Megan Marks at the plate, Comets shortstop Sophia Rineer threw wild to home trying to get Maddie Rineer on a delayed double steal, and Maddie Rineer scored the Streaks’ first run.

Carissa Lusk, courtesy running when Marks walked, pulled off a double steal with Kittleman, who scored on Annika Smith's single. Lusk then came home on the lead end of a double steal with Smith. However, Smith was caught stealing, injured on the play, and had to leave the game.

"She took a knee to the shin," Streaks coach Kirk Luther said. "I was afraid, when she went down, that would be tough (emotionally) for our kids to come back from."

The Streaks came back with an unearned run in the second to take the lead, 4-3, but the Comets returned service in the third as Hook and Emily Riggs doubled, Trout singled in a run, and the Comets plated two more on Bella Peters' RBI fielder's choice and Bria Booth's sacrifice fly.

Hook (3-for-5, 3 RBI) hit her second round-tripper of the day, a two-run shot to left in the fourth, for a 9-4 lead and it looked like the Comets could breathe a little easier.

Nope.

The Streaks, taking advantage of the third of four Penn Manor errors and some indecisive play in the field hung a three spot on the scoreboard, with Maddie Rineer singling in one of the runs, to close to 9-7.

"This is as resilient a group as we've ever had," Luther said. "There's no quit. They fight hard for each other."

Peters (two walks, three strikeouts) wasn't quite as sharp as usual, allowing six hits and seven runs, three earned, and she yielded the circle to Riggs with one out in the midst of the Township fourth. Riggs shut the door, allowing one hit and an unearned run the rest of the way, walking one and striking out five for the victory.

Gable, one of five seniors for the Comets, gave Riggs some insurance doubling in Trout in the sixth for the Comets' 10th run and a three-run lead.

"I always say, 'Give us that big senior hit,' " Stokes said. "I said, on the bench, that's going to prove to be a big run."

He was right, as Township answered on Delaney Smith's bases-loaded groundout in the bottom of the inning, narrowing the advantage to two. The Streaks would draw no closer.

"We are pretty young," said Luther, who starts just three seniors. "We've had some good early results. They're starting to believe, which has been nice, but you never know what that's going to mean when you come up against somebody like Penn Manor."

"They've evolved to where they're very solid," Stokes said of Township. "They don't give up, don't deflate and they keep battling back."

And should keep battling in a tight Section One race.

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