Hempfield defeats Canon-McMillan in possible playoff preview

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Monday, May 10, 2021 | 9:39 PM


Hempfield softball coach Bob Kalp spent time over the weekend mapping out the WPIAL 6A playoff pairings.

He had his Spartans facing Canon-McMillan in the first round.

Kalp got a firsthand look at the Big Macs on Monday during his team’s Senior Day. Hempfield won the nonsection meeting 4-2 behind another strong pitching performance by senior Callie Sowers.

The Bloomsburg recruit tossed a four-hitter, striking out 12 and walking none, which pleased Kalp.

What he didn’t like was his team’s inconsistency. An error allowed the Big Macs their first run, and not putting the ball in play with the bases loaded and no outs in the third inning could have been costly.

“I’m glad we won,” Kalp said. “Callie did a real nice job. We have to come up with more offense. We could have broken the game open in the third inning.”

Three of the Spartans’ runs were scored on Canon-McMillan (6-7, 4-4) miscues (a throwing error and two wild pitches).

The Spartans (10-5, 5-4) used two-out lightning to grab a 2-0 lead in the second inning off pitcher Lauren Duke. Olivia Kline dropped a single inside the right-field line, and Olivia Orischak tripled to the right-center gap to score Kline. When an errant throw skipped by the catcher, Orischak streaked home.

Hempfield made it 4-0 in the third inning and could have had more. Ellie Nicholls singled to center, and Emma Hoffner, who had two hits, doubled into the left-field corner to put runners at second and third.

After Olivia Grimmer walked to load the bases, Nicholls scored on a wild pitch. Sowers walked to load the bases again, and courtesy runner Sydney Hickle scored on a second wild pitch.

Relief pitcher Brooke Perri then fanned three consecutive batters to end the threat.

Kalp said he sees improvement every day from his young squad, which features three seniors.

“We’re not consistent enough,” Kalp said. “We can’t maintain. We don’t always do the little things right like catch easy throws.

“Bethel Park and Norwin are obviously the favorites, but if we play well we could be in the mix. We’re just looking to win one game and go from there.”

Canon-McMillan scored a run in the fourth inning when St. Francis recruit Olivia Ulam doubled off the fence and scored on a two-out error. Ulam, who went 3 for 3, homered to begin the seventh inning.

“I was pleased with the way I pitched other than the home run,” Sowers said. “She’s a good hitter, and I missed my spot.”

Sowers, who is recovering from a fractured finger on her throwing hand, said the cold weather affects how she grips the ball. She’s hoping for warmer weather.

“Something just isn’t right yet with the joint in my finger,” Sowers said. “Canon-McMillan is a good team, but we didn’t put the ball in play enough to see its defense.”

Hempfield is scheduled to play a nonsection game at Mt. Pleasant on Tuesday and then host Butler on Wednesday in the final section game of the season.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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