Meadville Tribune

May 2, 2013

H.S. SOFTBALL: Panthers too much for Conneaut

By Lisa Byers
Meadville Tribune

May 2, 2013 7:00 a.m. LINESVILLE — As Saegertown coach Mark McKissock prepared to hand his lineup over to umpire Bill Dithrich on Wednesday afternoon, he looked across the way to where his former ace Stephanie Baer stood.

“You know I remember when you were right here on this lineup card,” McKissock said to Baer. “Right here at No. 1.”

It was just five years ago that Baer played for McKissock, then the head coach at Cambridge Springs, and six since she helped lead him and the Lady Blue Devils to the PIAA Class A West final.

Needless to say, it was a proud moment for Baer to reconnect with her former coach, this time at the helm of her own team the Conneaut Area Senior High Eagles. She just wasn’t as proud of the outcome.

“It was nice to see everyone,” Baer said. “I just wish we would have given them a better game.”

Unfortunately for Baer and the Lady Eagles, they fell victim to a team that came in firing on all cylinders and with its own agenda. The end result was a 19-4 five-inning win by the Panthers.

“They just hit us,” Baer said. “We didn’t really have that many errors until the fifth inning. We didn’t hit and they did. That was the deal breaker.”

And boy did Saegertown hit, especially second baseman Lexi Palmer, who smacked a pair of home runs in her first two at-bats against a host of players she once played with as a Linesville High School student just a year ago.

Her first home run was part of a five-run first inning. Her solo shot in the second gave the Panthers a 6-0 lead.

“For me, this was our biggest game,” Palmer said. “It was really exciting. This meant a lot. It really meant a lot.”

Palmer’s performance was only a sign of things to come for the Panthers.

Saegertown finished the game with 17 base hits. Of the 12 Panthers that came to the plate, all but two had at least one hit. One of those two reached on a walk in her only plate appearance.

The Panthers (11-2) had five extra-base hits — Palmer’s two home runs, a triple by Rachel DiBartolomeo, a double by Haley Wise and the biggest hit of the afternoon a grand slam down the right field line by DiBartolomeo in the fifth that gave Saegertown a 16-0 lead.

“It was a complete game,” McKissock said. “Defensively, we played well. I was happy with our sticks.”

All of it came one day after beating Cambridge Springs 7-4 in a game McKissock was none too pleased with.

“They knew they won the game but did not play well (Tuesday),” McKissock said. “We can’t accept that and fortunately we have a group of players who understand that.”

Conneaut did collect nine hits against the Panthers and spoiled the Cats’ shutout bid with four runs in the fifth inning.

Jenn Krider got it started for the Eagles (6-6) with a single and scored on a triple by Kristen Baker. Becca Hazen and Karly Auen added RBI hits in the frame.

“The biggest thing is I need to get mad earlier,” Baer said with a laugh. “Because when I get made they are like, ‘Oh no, Coach is mad.’ And they seem to respond.”

Conneaut will get another crack at the Panthers on May 10 at Edinboro University.

DiBartolomeo finished yesterday’s game 3-for-3 with five RBIs and three runs scored. She was double away from the cycle. Hanley also drove in five. Jaricka Simmerman, Palmer, Courtney Lilly and Elizabeth Lilly had two hits each for the Panthers.

For the Eagles, Krider, Baker and Kristen Laird had two hits each. Sahara Blair doubled.

Saegertown returns to action on Saturday at McDowell. On Monday, the Panthers play host to Union City in a game that has been moved up one day. The game — for the second year — will be the Panthers’ “Strikeout Cystic Fibrosis” game, spearheaded by the team’s seniors, who will also be celebrating senior day.

McKissock’s granddaughter, 1-year-old Charlee Cook, has cystic fibrosis. Donations to benefit the fight towards the disease will be accepted at the game. Special uniforms will be worn as well.