By Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item
MONTOURSVILLE -- Warrior Run's Junior Division All-Star team entered the Section 3 Tournament at a disadvantage, and the situation only got worse for the squad following Wednesday's opening game against NEBALL.
Having not played a game prior to Wednesday, Warrior Run was rusty. NEBALL, comprised of players from Northeast Bradford and Towanda, was more than happy to capitalize on its opponent's mistakes.
NEBALL scored four unearned runs in the fourth inning to build a double-digit lead and take an eventual 14-4 victory over Warrior Run at Montoursville Middle School.
"That's a real great way to start off the tournament. This is our third time to ever make the sectional, and the first time to ever win a game," said NEBALL manager Andy Boardman. "We got a good bunch of hitters, and we're happy about that. The girls played well."
Following weeks of being idle, Warrior Run will have a day off to regroup before playing again on Friday at 5:30 p.m. The opponent will be the loser of today's game between NEBALL and Montoursville that will also be played at 5:30.
There's only three teams in the tournament, and the championship game is slated for Saturday at 2 p.m.
"We had a lot of rust. You can only practice and do so much and we had a lot of time off. It's tough with that big of a layoff," said Warrior Run manager Ted Reynolds. "We had some batters do well tonight, but some didn't get it done."
NEBALL held a 6-0 lead going into the fourth inning after it scored three runs in the first, plus three more in the third on a passed ball and an error.
Then an error-prone fourth inning put Warrior Run in a 10-0 hole.
And although Warrior Run plated a couple of runs in both the fourth and fifth innings, the team still stranded 15 runners on base in the game.
Jackie Vognetz drew a pair of bases-loaded walks and Maddie Beyer hit an RBI single to highlight the middle of the game for Warrior Run.
"We couldn't come up with the clutch hit," said Reynolds, whose team collected nine hits in the contest. "We had runners on, a lot, but we couldn't get the clutch hit when we needed it to drive in runs."
NEBALL didn't have such problems in the game as McKenna Wheaton doubled prior to winning pitcher Hannah Dum hitting an RBI single in a three-run sixth that pretty much sealed the win for the District 15 champs.
"We did take advantage of our opportunities and we didn't strand a lot of girls, which was good," said Boardman. "We got them on, we got them over (a base) and we got them in. That's the way to do it."
Warrior Run now has to shake off not just the remaining rust from its inactivity, but also a lopsided loss before taking the field for its next game.
"They know they can hit the pitching. That gives them the confidence for the next game that they are going to go in and swing the bat and hopefully do well," said Reynolds. "We gave up too many mistakes. Hopefully we can cut out the mistakes and play a better ballgame next time."