on May 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Lions come up short, but leave feeling good

GREENVILLE — If there is ever a positive to draw from a loss in the state playoffs, Daniel High School’s 4-2 loss to J.L. Mann Wednesday night in the District II Class AAA Softball State Playoffs is one of those times.

The Lions, a 7-0 loser to Mann last Saturday, played the defending Upper State Champions step-for-step in the district championship. As crazy as it might sound, the loss was another step forward for the program under third-year head coach Kate Floyd.

“I can’t be more proud of my girls,” she said. “Last year was the first time the program made the playoffs in a long time, and (Tuesday) night we won our first playoff game. We have gone farther than any Daniel softball team in a long while or at least as far as I’ve been able to go back. We were fighting for the district championship, and we kept it close.”

It did not appear as if things were going to be close early on. Mann (16-9) took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning as Hanna Pace, Leslie Jury and Katie Billingsly smacked back-to-back-to-back hits to get the rally started. Billingsly’s double down the right field line cleared the bases for a 2-0 lead and she later scored herself after Daniel pitcher Carley Hoover threw wild to home plate.

“We started out hitting the ball and that was good to see,” Patriots coach Tammy Pace said. “That was good to see because that has been an issue for us this season.”

But after that, Mann did not get much off of Hoover. The seventh graded settled down after striking out the side in the first inning, allowing just three more hits the rest of the way, while fanning 10 Patriot batters.

“I was really glad to see her hang in there after getting off to such a rough start,” Floyd said. “She showed she can play great when she settles down and relaxes. We are really looking forward to watching her pitch the next several years.”

Though Hoover kept Daniel (11-17) in the game, the Patriots’ Jury kept the Lions off the scoreboard for all but the sixth inning. The freshman struck out nine Daniel batters, while allowing just three hits.

“The key with her is to make contact,” Floyd said. “We never really stayed grounded, but that’s hard to do when you don’t really have a day to prepare for her. Considering we played (Tuesday) night against another pitcher and then had to comeback and play her, I thought we did okay considering we didn’t have any time to prepare for her.”

Despite the less time, the Lions actually improved Wednesday against Jury. In Saturday’s contest, she recorded 14 strikeouts as Daniel seldom made contact with the ball. The Lions not only made contact Wednesday, but put themselves back in the game when Allison Droddy dropped a triple to right field that scored teammate Anna Qualkinbush, who had reached a couple of batters earlier in the top of the sixth. Droddy actually scored herself on the play after Mann right fielder Olivia Zielinski failed to throw the ball back to the infield in time.

“This team fought from a four-run deficit to win last night and tonight they fought back after falling behind early on,” Floyd said. “This team can fight. They have proven that all year.”

A year that will probably start many more good years to come.

J.L. Mann now advances to the Upper State tournament, where it will face Clinton on Saturday.

J.L. Mann 4, Daniel 2

DWD 000 002 0 — 2 3 0

JLM 300 010 x — 4 6 0

Pitching

IP R H K BB

W—Jury 7 2 3 9 1

L—Hoover 6 4 6 10 5

Multiple hitters

D—None.

M—Pace 2-3.