SOFTBALL: Manheim Township stifles Solanco, 4-0
QUARRYVILLE - There is an old baseball adage that says pitchers shouldn't complain about run support: just pitch a shutout and hit a homerun. No matter how athletic, however, no one can pitch and play shortstop at the same time.
Helping herself at the plate and in the circle, Manheim Township softball pitcher Reilly Gearhart also reaped the benefit of strong play at short by senior August Mason to no-hit Solanco, 4-0, as the Lady Blue Streaks picked-up an important victory over the Golden Mares in their Section One-Two crossover matchup Monday afternoon in Quarryville.
Tallying two RBIs and scoring twice, including a line-drive solo homerun through the wind in left, Gearhart provided plenty of run-support for herself.
But it was Mason who preserved both the no-hitter and the shutout in the third inning, digging deep in the hole on a grounder off the bat of Mares' senior Madi Shaeffer and firing to first for the third-out of the inning, preventing Leila Redmond, who had walked, from scoring on the play.
"I love August being my shortstop," said Gearhart, who plays at short herself when not in the circle. "I always can count on her, we've been friends forever. We lean on each other, give each other advice. I'm glad to have her at Township."
That Mason is at Township (4-2) after playing her first three years at Warwick is a key component of the Blue Streaks' success this year.
"I knew what I was leaving behind, but I knew what I was coming to," said Mason of the transfer. "I was expecting great things, and that's what we've been getting so far."
Things started off well in the first inning as Solanco (5-2) committed the first of six errors on the day. Gearhart was safe at first after the ball came loose on a tag attempt from Mares' first baseman Sydney Sturgill.
A walk to Deja Williams and a single by Lacy Smith off the glove of centerfielder Abby Heidelbaugh on what would have been an outstanding catch loaded the bases before Mason lofted a sacrifice fly to right to score the only run the Blue Streaks' would need.
Gearhart produced an RBI groundout in the second inning to score Madison Vealey, who had reached on an error, extending Township's lead to 2-0.
"Especially as a pitcher you always want those lead runs," Gearhart said. "You want to be able to get ahead and be able to rely on (it)."
Gearhart seemed in control throughout, working around single walks in the first, third, and sixth innings. An error by Smith at third accounted for the only other Solanco base-runner, which came with one-out in the fifth following Mason's second great play of the contest on a grounder up the middle, likewise preventing a base hit.
"My travel coach, he's worked non-stop, backhand, forehand, so I've had tons of practice," said Mason, who nonetheless is playing her first season at shortstop. "It's definitely a change but I really like it."
The Golden Mares were set down in order in the seventh, on a hard-hit liner to Smith, a strikeout, and a groundout to first-base.
"Honesty, I did not know (about the no-hitter), I usually don't get told that until the end of the game," said Gearhart, who finished with eight strikeouts. "Against Solanco, it's a big win. After our losses to Hempfield and Warwick, we wanted to get this one."
"She's a quality pitcher," said Solanco head coach Brett Miller. "We were trying to adjust to a strike-zone most of the game, that's a challenge. She's quality enough to (spot) the pitches where they're going to be called strikes."
Gearhart and Smith (3-for-4) doubled Township's lead in the fourth, Gearhart leading off the inning with her solo shot to left before Smith's one-out double to centerfielder went past Heidelbaugh for a two-base error and the fourth Township run.
Of the four runs by the Blue Streaks, only Gearhart's homerun was earned against Mares' junior pitcher Kalyn Burger, who struck-out three in seven innings, scattering ten hits and a walk.
"You can give them a base hit but you can't give them three bases after that," Miller said. "You just can't do that at any level but scholastically, three outs an inning is what they say you have to give, and we were very generous today."
Solanco, the top team in Section Two, travels to Section-One co-leader Warwick Wednesday night. Township plays a make-up contest versus Cedar Crest tomorrow before hosting Elizabethtown on Wednesday.
"We've definitely had some ups and down so far," said Mason of the early part of the season. "I think what I'm most proud of is we've learned from our mistakes so quickly that we've been able to move on from them."
As for Monday, it was the moves by a pair of Township shortstops that left things looking up.
Girls' High School Softball
L-L Section One-Two Crossover
Manheim Township 4, Solanco 0
MT 1 1 0 2 0 0 0 - 04 10 01
SOL 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 00 00 06
WP-R. Gearhart; LP-K. Burger
K-BB-Gearhart (7IP, 8K, 3BB) and A. Perkins; Burger (7IP, 3K, 1BB) and B. Borcky
2B-L. Smith (MT)
HR-R. Gearhart (MT)