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Zephs fall in district finals

The Whitehall softball team went into Saturday’s District XI 6A championship game against Northampton looking to claim the program’s first title since 2009. After rallying from a 4-1 deficit in the top of the seventh inning to tie the game, they were unable to shut down the K-Kids in the bottom of the seventh and fell 5-4.

Head coach Blake Morgan noted, “That’s the games we have with Northampton, either we’re up and they fight back or they’re up and we fight back. We had two plays to make and didn’t make either of them and that’s what happens.”

Whitehall opened the scoring in the fourth inning. Abby Vivian drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Abbey Reese delivered a 2-out single to right to draw first blood.

Northampton struck back in the bottom of the fourth. A pair of 2-out hit batters loaded the bases and Lily Stuhledreher delivered a single up the middle to drive in a pair of runs and put the K-Kids on top.

Northampton added a run in the fifth when Kendyll Strohl reached on an error and moved to second via sacrifice bunt. Kate Stuhldreher singled up the middle to drive in the third K-Kid run of the game.

Another error in the bottom of the sixth led to Northampton’s fourth run. Taylor Kranzley delivered a 2-out single to drive in Alexa Cromey from second.

The crazy top of the seventh inning started when Reese drew a leadoff walk. A Northampton error added a baserunner and Kate Yadush singled to right to drive in Reese cutting the deficit to 4-2. Jess Spanitz was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no one out. Emma Bonshak delivered a base hit to drive in another run and keep the bases loaded. The score was now 4-3.

Meghan Hutter hit into a fielder’s choice to drive in the fourth Zephyrs run and tie the game. Vivian walked to load the bases again, this time with one out. A leaping backhand in foul territory by Northampton first baseman Devyn Demchak recorded the second out. A routine fly to right left the bases loaded and sent the game to the bottom of the seventh tied at four.

Northampton loaded the bases with one out and center fielder Rilee Ehrlacher at bat. Ehrlacher hit a chopper back up the middle that took a double play out of consideration and Ryley Stanchock beat the throw home with the winning run.

For the Zephyrs, it was the second straight district runner-up finish for this talented group after coming up short against Parkland in 2019.

“It was the last chance for the seniors, so that hurts a little bit, but I can’t fault them, they played their tails off,” he said.