Tuesday (All photographs are from Tuesday)
Leading throughout they had a few bungled throws and suddenly found themselves down a run with one inning to go. Then they had fortune reign down on them when a gutsy call by head coach Ashleigh Phillips to send her base-runner Karmyn Reese home would've ended up as an out if the MTV catcher was able to control the tag.
Chaos then ensued when the ball that skirted away allowing Jersey Swartz to try to get to third base. The throw to third then got away allowing Swartz to score the go ahead run.
In the bottom of the inning with two outs pitcher Abigail Mawhinney only needed to get MTV's number nine hitter out to win the game. This was even more important given MTV's best hitter Nora Lesko, who was already having a good night at the plate, was on deck.
All she had to do is get possibly the teams weakest batter out and it is game over. But that's not what happened. Walking that batter now made coach Phillips a little nervous.
Lesko hit a sleepy fly that dropped into the outfield. Lesko ended up on second and the nine batter stood on third.
Mawhinney got the next batter to ground back to her and she made a very safe and careful throw to first the end the threat.
The win put them in the championship game on Friday where their opponent was Cambridge Springs/Saegertown.
Things did not look good for MEC when they faced a big deficit. Down 9-3 with just a couple innings the team got hot at the right time and they rallied to score seven runs in the final two innings to take home the District 1 banner.
The win allows them to advance to the Sectional tournament which will be held at the Meadville Fairgrounds fields beginning Tuesday.
The MECca of softball
The Mid-East/Cochranton 12 and under softball team didn't exactly win the easy way Tuesday when they took on the Meadville/Titusville/Vernon or on Friday either when they won the District 1 championship game against Cambridge/Saegertown
After spanking Oil City this weekend, the Franklin Little League All-Stars traveled up Route 8 to take on Titusville Monday night. The Titusville squad had earlier handed Knox a pretty good whoopin'. On Monday, Franklin jumped out ahead and held on for a 4-1 win.
"There is no game that teaches life lessons better, at least none that I've found," said Doug Bevier. He is known to give his Little League ball players a little homework after practice.
"After each practice he would give the kids a word like ‘discipline.’ He would tell them the meaning and then quiz them on what it meant the next practice," Bevier's daughter Bria said over the loudspeaker Wednesday night at the Miller-Sibley Complex. Unbeknownst to "Coach Doug," several members of the community and his family arranged to honor him for his 30 years of coaching Little League in the Franklin area.
He stood humbly along the first base infield as an announcement was made that they were delaying the start of the final game for his league-leading Elks team in order to thank him for all his years of service to the kids.
"He enjoyed when a player could make a head-ups play, but he loved when a player received all As on a report card or seeing a player get summer job more. He instilled in them what leadership was and how in everything you do in this life you lead by example, or lead by being vocal and picking your teammates up," his daughter continued.
That homework Bevier would give was the most important thing he could do, he said. He looked at coaching baseball as a means to teach kids to be better people and leaders. "My kids all have given me the time to help all these other kids," Coach Doug said, as he started to get a little emotional. "And they have all come out to help coach too."
Bevier's daughter said her dad has reached over 300 local kids over the years, instilling in them lessons on how to be successful in life. "Some of his lessons included responsibility, accountability, sportsmanship and that hard work pays off."
He has a good reason for leaving his successful coaching career that includes eight league championships, several district titles and state runs in both baseball and softball - he wants to spend more time watching his youngest son Hayden play varsity ball and hopefully help out with practices at Rocky Grove.
He didn't rule out a return in the future. "Who knows, we'll see if Jodi (his wife) needs me out of the house, maybe I'll be back in four years," he said.
"Doug's contributions to this league and community will be felt in the hearts of the kids for a long time," his daughter concluded her speech. "Thank you Coach Doug, thank you Dad."
It started out pretty well for the Franklin Knights Thursday. Their tall sophomore Zachary Boland was on the mound and despite giving up a lead off walk he struck out two and got a grounder out on a hit and run play.
The Knights were facing the Punxsutawney Chucks in the state quarterfinals at Slippery Rock University.
Boland pitched four solid innings, only giving up one run in the second.
When he left the game Franklin was up 2-1 on a first inning RBI single by Noah Kockler scoring Caleb Doyle and fourth inning bases loaded shot by Doyle that scored Kyle Alexander. Drew Kockler was also sent home on the play by coach Brian Schmidt but was picked off at the plate to end the inning.
Kyle Alexander came into pitch in the fifth and looked solid striking out two and only giving up one single before retiring the side with a routine fly ball to center
Franklin's fifth started with walks to Carson Wible and Noah Kockler. They advanced on a wild pitch. Then Kyle Alexander doubled scoring both and putting the Knights up 4-1.
Alexander’s sixth inning on the mound didn’t quite go as smooth as the fifth. Two hard shots down the third base line resulted in a double and a single that scored a run. A couple batters later the bases were full and Schmidt pulled Alexander for Ethen Nightingale. A grounder to short seemed routine to get a force at second but the ball was babbled and everyone was safe and one more run was scored. Nightingale got out of the inning with the Knights still up a run 4-3.
In the top of the seventh Punxsutawney got a single on a tough play for shortstop Luke Guth to handle and the runner beat out the throw. Then a hard single to left put two on. Nightingale then got the next two batters to fly out, but one runner advanced to third on the second fly ball.
Then a slow infield bouncer was fielded cleanly by Guth but the runner was able to beat the throw to first and the runner on third scored to tie the game. The next batter got a hold of one and sent it over the centerfielder’s head to score two on a double and take the lead for the first time in the game.
Franklin, in the bottom of the seventh started well with a double by Carson Wible but the next three batters weren’t able to get him across the plate.
Franklin’s season comes to an end with a 15-8 record.
To view more photos visit: https://sayerrich.zenfolio.com/p173763093
I was in a rush to get home
Certainly, my 5-year-old would understand if we skipped our traditional stop at McDonald’s for a “blue slushy” after gymnastics. Of course, her sad little face said otherwise.
So we pull up to the drive-thru speaker and I ask for a blue raspberry slush in a voice that probably had the entire staff inside the McDonald’s drawing opinions.
I was in a hurry.
Let me explain, I thoroughly enjoyed each and every experience in my 20 years as a sports reporter at The Meadville Tribune. Those who know me well know my greatest passion was covering spring sports. I considered it an absolute privilege to watch and report on softball and boys volleyball in Crawford County.
Needless to say, with two schools I covered reaching the state semi-finals, I was a bit anxious for what was to transpire at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday
Crawford County has been blessed with so many great boys volleyball players, several of which have gone on to compete internationally. So much of that talent was to be on display in different ways Tuesday at Conneaut Area Senior High School and for me it started with Meadville head coach Nick Bancroft and Cochranton head coach Robert Cierniakoski
Even though it had been years, it seemed like only months prior that I was sitting in the stands, notebook in tow, watching Bancroft and Cierniakoski competing as teammates for Maplewood under the direction of one of the area’s greatest coaches Sheila Bancroft, Nick's mom.
I absolutely couldn’t wait to watch these volleyball masterminds at work with their respective teams now as coaches going head to head.
I knew it would be epic.
I snatched the blue raspberry slush out of the hands of the very nice McDonald’s employee, handed it off to my daughter and made my journey home. It was now 7:02 p.m.
I had 28 minutes to get home.
Please don’t let me get stuck behind a tractor.
I maintained the speed limit (precious cargo in my back seat) and watched as the minutes ticked away. I pulled into my driveway at 7:21, got my daughter out of her carseat and power walked into the house, pulled the volleyball match up on COOL 101.7’s Facebook page from my phone (thank you to COOL) and set it up to air on my TV just in time to hear Logan Walker and Chuck Stopp introduce the national anthem.
I really didn’t have a care in the world about which team won. I had built pretty good relationships with both Bancroft and Cierniakoski through their playing and coaching days; likewise with several members of their coaching staffs.
But I will admit I was in awe of just how precise Meadville was through the majority of the match. All I could do was shake my head and say, “Wow,” repeatedly, to which my daughter would ask, “What, Mommy?”
"These kids are so good," I told her.
I also kept thinking about just how cool it would be for Bancroft to make a third trip to the state championships in just his third year of coaching (2020 season was cancelled due to COVID). And in all honesty, he had the team to do it again in 2020. Who else has done something like that?
In fact in three years of coaching Bancroft has only lost one match while winning 59.
It was that precision that wound up leading Bancroft and his Bulldogs to the sweep Tuesday night of the Cards. The ‘Dogs have a plethora of weapons and their passing is impeccable. Lower Dauphin is going to have its hands full when it meets a Meadville squad that is already out for revenge on Saturday at 11 a.m. in Penn State. That one loss on Bancroft's coaching record was to Lower Dauphin a year ago in the state final. Lower Dauphin took that match in four sets.
This column was written by Lisa Renwick, long time sports reporter and editor at The Meadville Tribune and frequent contributor to Eight & 322
Guth shuts down South Park
Sixteen of the South Park's 21 outs came via Guth Ks. Dominant.
Good luck Knights. Go make us proud.
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