While the most damaging blow traveled all of six feet, it may have been an omen when Littlestown hosted Kutztown in a District 3 3A semifinal.
The dribbler was a tough way to open the scoring and things only got worse for the Thunderbolts after that.
However, Bolts coach Jeff Laux and lone senior Jada Mummert were not about to let Thursday’s 9-1 loss to Kutztown ruin a terrific season that included a 16-6 record and YAIAA-III title.
“It was different than any other ball season. We wanted to be here and all became really close on and off the field,” said Mummert. “It was a huge turnaround from last season when we were 9-11. We were division champs and got to districts. It was the best season I’ve had.”
Laux credited Mummert with a lot of the Bolts’ success.
“Jada is a sparkplug and she will challenge you every single day. That’s why we love her,” Laux said. “She challenges me to be a better coach and the same thing with her teammates. She is a joy to be around and if I was only going to have one senior, you couldn’t ask for a better person.”
The bad things came in the top of the first.
Cougars’ leadoff hitter Emily Maddock drew a walk and was bunted to second. The speedster stopped at third on Olivia Kardohely’s hit and came home when Brianna Stauffer rolled a six-foot cue shot, that somehow stayed fair for an infield hit.
A walk and strikeout later, Kutztown’s Ryleigh Bohning drilled a two-run single to left for an early 3-0 lead.
“A check swing, the ball hits a little piece of dirt and rolls fair instead of foul. That’s softball,” said Laux. “Sometimes it falls that way and that’s kind of what happened today. But I am super proud of this group. They were a lot of fun. My first year back coaching and I had a blast.”
Maddock reached on a one-out error in the second inning and came around to score on Kardohely’s double. Bohning drove in another run with her second hit and she scored on a Jocelyn Miller double.
The Cougars improved to 18-5 and will face the winner of today’s delayed semifinal between Delone Catholic and Oley Valley. The district title game is slated for Tuesday at a time and sight to be determined.
“We are a pretty scrappy team and we pride ourselves on getting the ball in play and making the other team make errors,” Maddock said.
Two innings later, it was Maddock again, who opened the fourth with a base hit and went to second on Caitlyn Lubak’s single. The duo pulled off a double steal, Maddock scored on a groundout and Stauffer’s sacrifice fly plated Lubak for an 8-0 lead.
Obviously, the more than two-hour bus ride from northern Berks County did not affect the Cougars.
“We kept our spirits up on the bus,” Maddock said. “We ate lunch together, had a little bit of a nap time, then we had some music playing, getting pumped up.”
“This is the game we wanted. We missed it the last three years,” said Kutztown coach Kevin Conrad. “It guarantees we go to states and that’s what it’s all about. We wanted the opportunity for these girls to go to states.”
At least the Bolts gave the big crowd something to cheer about in the bottom of the sixth when Kacie Frock tripled and scored on Molly Watkins’ line drive single.
Plus, there is plenty to look forward to as Littlestown’s lineup featured two freshmen, a sophomore, six juniors and Mummert.
“I want this to snowball into next season and I get to come back and see them have a better season than I got to have my senior year,” Mummert said.
“If the girls come out and work hard, and I think they will, we will absolutely be right back here,” added Laux. “Our JV lost only one game. There’s kids down there that can play and I expect us to be good softball for the foreseeable future.”
Kutztown 330 210 0 — 9 11 0
Littlestown 000 001 0 — 1 7 2
WP: Olivia Kardohely. LP: Amaya Bowman. SO-BB: Kardohely 4-2, Bowman 4-2. 2B: K-Kardohely, Miller 2, Bohning; L-Caitlin Eader. 3B: L-Kacie Frock