Falcons earn CL silver medals
The Salisbury softball team nearly made history on Friday night. In the program’s first Colonial League championship game appearance since 2002, the Lady Falcons had an opportunity to earn their first conference title ever.
For most of the game, it looked as if No. 6 seed Salisbury was bound to upset top-seeded Bangor and earn that elusive title. The Lady Falcons led 8-3 early and 11-6 after five innings.
But Bangor had one last-ditch effort, much like when it scored four runs in the final innings against Northwestern in the semifinals to survive and advance. The Lady Slaters scored five runs in the sixth inning to the tie game, then produced the game-winning run in the seventh to earn a 12-11 victory over Salisbury at Pates Park.
It was Bangor’s second straight Colonial League title and fourth consecutive appearance in the championship game.
“They’re very talented,” Falcon head coach Jeff Appleman said. “That’s why they only lost one game this year. I give it up to them. They are very good. We had the lead, but we have to learn how to play with a lead. It’s a learning process. They are young, and they have to learn how to play with leads and things along those lines. The youth shows up at times, but the heart is there. This team has heart.”
Salisbury has proved its coach right by showing that heart throughout the season and into the playoffs. As the final seed to qualify for the tournament, the Lady Falcons upset No. 3 Northern Lehigh in the quarterfinals and No. 2 Southern Lehigh in the semifinals. They were just a few outs away from ending Bangor’s chance at repeating.
“We scored 11, and you should win with that,” Appleman said. “I’m disappointed, but we have districts and I think we’re going to do pretty well.”
Bangor’s comeback started when Olivia Groller lined a triple into right field in the sixth. Dani Hess then reached base on a Lady Falcon error to score Groller, brining the Lady Slaters within 11-7.
Three batters later, Ciarrah Holmqvist walked to bring in Hess to cut Salisbury’s lead to just three runs. No. 4 hitter Dani Fey and No. 5 hitter Kaitlyn Caleen recorded back-to-back RBI-singles, and a sacrifice fly from Jackie Hess scored Holmqvist to the game at 11-11.
Homqvist, who recorded her 100th hit in the game, lined a dribbler back to pitcher Brooke Rogers that scored Hess in the seventh. That was hit No. 101, and maybe none bigger in her career.
“They just keep coming,” Appleman said. “Once we got them in the middle of the lineup, I knew it was going to be difficult. But I’m ready for districts.”
Salisbury didn’t shy away from the challenge in front of them, a Bangor team that entered the game as heavy favorites and only one loss to its name. Lilia Crouthamel’s two-run home run in the first inning set the tone that the Lady Falcons were up for the task last Friday.
Salisbury scored six runs in the third, all coming with two outs and nobody on base to start the frame. Anna Bishop and Emily Silberman recorded back-to-back RBI-singles to left field that put Salisbury ahead 4-3 after Bangor retook the lead in the second. Hannah Lipkin also had an RBI-single in the frame, Bryanna Driscoll was hit by a pitch to score Gretchen Helsel, and Brook Rogers singled to center field to score two more runs in the third.
“We had two outs with nobody on, and we scored six runs,” Appleman said. “We had that 8-3 lead, and that’s when we started throwing things around.”
The Lady Falcons scored three more in the fifth inning to push their lead to 11-6. Anna Bishop’s two-run triple highlighted the scoring in the frame.
Bishop came off a semifinal win against Southern Lehigh that featured the game-winning hit and the game-ending double play. She went 3-for-5 with two RBIs against Bangor.
“It feels awesome,” Bishop said after the Southern Lehigh game. “I think we’ve been playing great softball lately, and I’m so proud of everyone. It’s all so surreal.”
Rogers was pitching in her second game in three days. Besides Silberman entering the game briefly in the sixth inning against Bangor, Rogers faced every hitter against the Lady Slaters and Southern Lehigh.
“We are such a quality team, we come through, and we do what we can,” Rogers said after the semifinal win. “Obviously we just proved it now with no errors, coming in hitting with the solid hits.
“To be able to represent Salisbury with this team, it feels good,”
Salisbury entered the District 11 Class 3A playoffs as the No. 3 seed. Results from Tuesday’s quarterfinals matchup against Marian Catholic were not available at time of press. See next week’s Press for coverage of that game.