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Baseball and Softball Off To Quick Starts

Opening its season with a 4-2 win over Central Dauphin, the Donegal baseball squad is off to a quick start. Each team notched five hits with the Panthers committing two errors to Donegal’s one. Hits were credited to Tanner Kohler, Dale Houser, Patrick Beaudoin (2), and Seller Edwards. Ryan Buckius got the start on the mound for Donegal and scattered five hits and four walks over five-and-two-thirds innings of work. Dale Houser was brought on in relief for the save, throwing one-and-a-third innings, surrendering four hits and walking one batter. Each pitcher struck out four.

For Donegal softball, there are some new faces and familiar faces in new places, but the song remains the same.

Hit the ball in a timely fashion. Play crisp defense. Get dominant pitching.

Senior shortstop Savanna Kolenda went 3 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI, pacing an 11-hit attack.

Sophomore right-hander Sierra Neiss tossed a one-hit shutout, striking out 12, and Donegal (2-0) defeated Elizabethtown 4-0 in a nonleague contest Thursday afternoon at Robinson Field in Rheems.

“She’s an awfully good pitcher,” Bears coach Gary Wylde observed, tipping his cap to Neiss, adding, “I know we’ll hit better.”

Jocelyn Zook singled in the third inning for the Bears (0-1) — the first hit allowed by Neiss this season.

She wasn’t E-town’s only baserunner, though.

Neiss walked six and hit two batters in a 132-pitch performance, escaping a bases-loaded, two-out pickle in the fourth inning when catcher Morgan Biesecker picked Alyssa Hamilton off third base to end the inning.

While Neiss is picking up where she left off in 2017, Wylde may have himself an ace for the future in freshman Kristin Geesey.

“She’s going to help us a lot,” Wylde said. “She’s a competitor. She doesn’t get rattled, and she hits her spots.”

Of the 109 pitches she threw, there were a few that may not have hit her spot.

Donegal’s batters sent them to the deeper recesses of the park.

With the Indians leading 1-0 on Jess Kosheba’s RBI single, freshman Aysha Gibbs doubled to deep left with one out in the third.

In a seven-pitch at-bat, Neiss drilled a two-out double to deep center, plating Gibbs.

With two out in the fourth, Grace Miller tripled to right, scoring on Kolenda’s double to the alley in right.

Kolenda then came home on a single to left by Gibbs (2-for-3).

“Aysha’s an incredible athlete all around,” said Kolenda. “We have a bunch of strong girls this year.”

Kolenda, Biesecker and third baseman Peighton Hornick — along with Neiss, who picked up the win in relief — are back in the spots they held nine-and-a-half months ago when the Indians walked out of Penn State’s Lubrano Field carrying the PIAA Class 5A championship trophy.

Seniors Rachel Overlander and Jess Kosheba, who came off the bench in 2017, have earned starts at second and center, respectively.

Sophomore Steph Reider stands tall at first base in her first year of varsity while Gibbs’ presence in left allows Miller to shift over to right.

With the league season starting Monday, Kolenda said the Indians are “feeling really confident.”

Confidence too is the order of the day for the Bears.

“You don’t like to (lose), but I was pleased with the way we hung in there, for being a really young group,” Wylde said.

“I’m confident we’re going to make some noise.”