Bermudian Springs may have finished the 2021 softball season with a .500 record at 12-12, but sometimes records can be deceiving.
The Eagles closed the regular season having lost six of their last seven games, but then went on a magical run to reach the District 3 Class 3A championship game where they narrowly lost to Pequea Valley. Along the way, Bermudian earned its first playoff win in program history, its first championship game appearance in program history, and its first state tournament appearance.
Berm’s season came to an end on Monday with an 8-1 loss to District 6 champion Central Cambria. But the Eagles graduate just two players in Gabby Kaltreider and Briella Riley and coach Ed Kennell is enthusiastic about what’s to come for the program.
“One of the things that I had taken into account is that of the 12 girls I had on varsity this year, most of the team are juniors,” Kennell said. “And when you figure last year was swiped from them with COVID, from a sports point of view they’re kind of sophomores. Of that group, only three, (Maya) Kemper, (Tori) Murren and (Hannah) Chenault were with us as freshmen. So they took a big step forward and there’s still a lot of room for them to continue to improve.”
Murren, the team’s ace in the circle, Kemper, the starting shortstop, and Chenault, the starting center fielder, form the backbone of an Eagles team that allowed just six combined runs across three district playoff games despite none of the players having prior postseason experience.
“Even though we lost six of our last seven in the regular season, the way we looked at it, playoffs were brand new to us while (first-round opponent) Lancaster Catholic is in there most years, so we had everything to gain and nothing to lose,” Kennell said. “And we played (semifinal opponent) Trinity in the regular season and had them on the ropes and we let them slip. So we knew we could play with them.”
Kennell said defense and timely hitting were the keys to his team’s playoff run, and that regular season performances as well as playoff results have given the Eagles reasons to believe they should enter the 2022 season at district title threats.
“That’s kind of the speech that I had with them after Central Cambria,” Kennell said of the heightened expectations. “I told them to look at District 3-3A. Number one was Trinity and we beat them. Number two was Littlestown and we had them on the ropes and then number three was Pequea Valley and we took them to the wire in the playoffs. So we have the ability to play with and beat any of these teams. We’ve just got to keep getting better and make sure we’re doing things the right way”
Murren, who was excellent in the circle throughout the district tournament run, is a big reason why Eagles fans should be excited going forward. But Kennell said that his team’s pitching staff is deeper than just one person.
“That’s really big. It’s always nice to have that one pitcher you can rely on,” he said. “When you look at her during the game you can’t tell whether her team is winning or losing and that’s what you want from your players. But what’s really, really nice is having a girl like Maddie Reever who was our number two and did a wonderful job for us. She doesn’t get the strikeouts Tori does, but she gets a lot of ground balls and she doesn’t walk anyone. I think she walked maybe four or five all season. So to have that one-two punch is really something special.”
Kennell also raved about the play of freshman Hannah Metzger, who spent most of the season playing junior varsity before being moved up in the playoffs and batting leadoff in the district championship game.
“I think with a young lady like Hannah Metzger, the girl is just so athletic but along with her athleticism she has great softball knowledge,” he said. “Right now she’s just lacking a bit of game experience, but she got those three or four games in the playoffs and with her getting that game experience and more to come in the next year she has the chance to be a really fantastic player.”
He also noted that continuity helped keep his team on the right track, with no COVID shutdowns among the 21 players on varsity and junior varsity.
“They did a wonderful job with that,” Kennell said. “They were very responsible and did everything they had to do and they deserve praise for that.”
The strong finish to the season is something that Kennell said sets a new standard for the program going forward.
“I think with the experience of what we did this year, getting six outs or so from a district championship, this is just going to set the bar for the juniors who are now seniors,” he said. “And that’s going to set a new bar for the program going forward.”
Clay Sauertieg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org