Girls fall to Emmaus
With the district softball game teetering on the mercy rule, after Emmaus scored eight runs in the top of the fifth to make it 15-3, Whitehall refused to accept that fate in the opening round of the 6A playoffs.
They had already fought back once, trimming Emmaus’ 7-0 advantage to just four in the bottom of the fourth, but the Hornets erupted for eight more runs in their next at-bat to potentially ice the game if the Zephyrs didn’t score.
But that outcome wouldn’t materialize when Whitehall came to bat in the fifth. Madison Cunningham led off the inning with a walk. After Rachel Arner flew out, Meghan Hutter delivered a single to put runners on first and second. Casey Cunningham was next in line, and the senior scorched a liner that landed at the base of the center field fence for a double, scoring their fifth run. Logan Bortz followed with a screamer that glanced off the third baseman’s mitt and skittered down the left field line for a hit, driving in two more runs.
It was now 15-6. There would be no mercy rule.
While that’s all they would score in that frame, they continued to fight back, eventually losing 15-7.
The loss ends the season, and careers, of seniors Casey Cunningham, Veronica Rodriguez, Samantha Molitoris, Rachel Sottolano, Genesis Perez and Iliana Oliver.
For Casey Cunningham, the realization that it was over was a bitter pill to swallow.
“I wish that we could have gone farther,” said Cunningham. ‘We worked our butts off as a team to get better, to make it farther in this type of situation, but I know everyone put it all out there, but it just didn’t go our way today.”
While the outcome was disappointing, she wouldn’t trade the experience with her fellow teammates.
“I’m happy to end my career with this team because we’ve become really close and I think of all of them like family,” said Cunningham.
Casey Cunningham played a big part in the offense throughout the year, and Monday’s district game was no different. She had the only hit off Emmaus starter Hannah Palinkas through three innings. Palinkas did a masterful job inside the circle early in the game, but Whitehall eventually tagged her for multiple runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Cunningham also laced a double, knocking in a run, and then hit a hard liner that was caught in her final at-bat.
The senior credits the entire team for helping put her imposition to be a run producer.
“I just know that I wanted to help contribute to make everyone else’s season go farther,” said Cunningham.
Whitehall last faced Emmaus on May 7, losing 2-0 to the Hornets. Palinkas appeared in that game as well, striking out four during her brief stint. Cunningham said that she’s able to hit her spots and has nice movement on the ball.
Head coach Blake Morgan said that the game comes down to a simple fact.
“We know that we can’t make mistakes, and you can’t make mistakes against good teams,” said Morgan. “Sometimes when you get further along when you’re in a district final, that’s all that’s left are good teams. Good teams are going to keep coming at you, and keep coming at you, and if you give them a run or two, here to there, it’s like a shark smelling blood in the water.”
The Hornets got that sense early, scoring four runs in the top of the first. They added two more in the second, and further padded that lead with a run in the fifth to build a 7-0 lead.
Once Whitehall erased that mark by plating three runs in the fourth, capitalizing on RBI singles by Rodriguez and Molitoris, combined with a Emmaus throwing error, Whitehall needed a shutdown inning. However, the Hornets wouldn’t oblige.
“Credit them,” said Morgan. “I could sit here and think of thirty things we did wrong, but that takes away some credit from them. They hit the ball hard. They were bigger, stronger and better today, there’s no doubt about that.”
Morgan said that he had hoped they would have finished the year stronger, sending their seniors out on a good note, but knows the future is bright at Whitehall.
“We’re excited about that’s to come in the next couple of years,” said Morgan. “We have a lot of young talent.”