By Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item
MONTOURSVILLE -- What a difference three days and a rainout has made for the Warrior Run Junior Division All-Star Team in the Section 3 Tournament this week.
After suffering a 10-run loss to NEBALL in Wednesday's opening game, Warrior Run met the same team in Saturday's elimination bracket final that was pushed back a day by rain, and turned the tables.
This time around Warrior Run scored the runs and played spotless defense against NEBALL, leading to a 12-8 victory at Montoursville Middle School.
Thanks to a steady diet of oil (practice) the past few days, Warrior Run has knocked off the rust that it had from not playing a game prior to Wednesday. Warrior Run next plays Montoursville today at 2 p.m. for the Section 3 title, though Warrior Run would have to beat the host team twice to claim the championship.
"They played a lot better game today and they definitely came ready to play. It was a totally different game," said Warrior Run manager Ted Reynolds. "They stepped up and made the plays, got the outs -- good throws and good fielding -- and hopefully we can bring that same game tomorrow.
"We definitely have to play solid defense, and we know (Montoursville) has a solid pitcher and we have to come ready to hit the ball and move runners along."
Warrior Run got the upper hand early in the rematch with NEBALL, a combined team from Northeast Bradford and Towanda, after it scored two unearned runs in the second inning and then a run on a wild pitch in the third to take a 3-0 lead.
Holding a lead was something Warrior Run didn't get a chance to do in the first game, and it only pumped the team up more as Saturday's contest got further along.
"Anytime you can play ahead, that's always a motivator," said Reynolds. "It's a totally different thing playing ahead when you're winning the game."
Warrior Run's lead then grew to double digits after it scored five runs in the fifth and four more in the sixth.
A two-run double by pitcher/first baseman Megan Herriman came in the fifth to help give Warrior Run an 8-1 lead. She later hit a three-run triple as Warrior Run took a 12-4 lead in the sixth.
Herriman finished the game 3-for-5 with five RBIs and three runs scored.
"That felt great. I wasn't hitting the last game at all. I needed that," said Herriman. "I knew we had potential, but we didn't show it the first day. So it was pretty exciting to have the girls come out and ready to play."
"Whenever you can score multiple runs and play ahead and give yourself a little bit of a cushion is always a good thing," said Reynolds.
Warrior Run also played great defense in the game. The team didn't commit a single error behind starting and winning pitcher Jackie Vognetz, and Herriman, the reliever.
Vognetz allowed just one run before being taken out of the game after the fourth inning.
It was a decision Reynolds didn't want to do, but he needed to save some pitching in case his team survived to face Montoursville. Turned out he was right.
"I hated to make the pitching change, but I had to save them both for tomorrow. (Megan) bore down and got it done," said Reynolds.
However, Warrior Run never needed to pitch or play better defense than in the seventh, when NEBALL scored four runs to make the game close.
Herriman got the first out easily enough when McKenna Wheaton hit a weak grounder to shortstop Gabby Heiss. But the next three batters got on and were brought home on a wild pitch, plus an RBI infield single from Jaycee Brown and a two-run double by Kaylee Fulmer.
But Herriman recovered to get the next batter to ground out to third baseman Alexis Neuer to end the game.
"I was scared that I would let them down, but I didn't. I worked really hard (on Friday to get ready)," said Herriman. "I was really nervous. I didn't know if we'd pull it out or not, but I knew my team had my back."
"I was definitely worried when things started falling. I was ready to make a pitching change if they scored one more run," said Reynolds. "You just can't let the game get away from you."