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LV advances in CC softball tourney

The alarm goes off on Monday morning and all you want to do is keep hitting the snooze button. For the Lehigh Valley Carpenter Cup softball team, the alarm went off before dawn on Monday morning and the players and coaches had to be up and out of the house, meeting at Philadelphia’s FDR Park by 7 a.m. An hour later, the team was on the field in the opening game of the Carpenter Cup tournament.

Unfortunately, while they were awake, their bats kept hitting snooze as Lehigh Valley picked up just one hit – a bunt single by Central Catholic’s Lauren Egan – in an opening 1-0 loss to Burlington County.

When the day was over many hours and two more games later, Lehigh Valley was wide-awake and swinging hot bats, winning its next two games and finishing as the top team in its bracket, giving the LV the opportunity to return to Philadelphia to play again on Wednesday.

“The girls had an early wake-up call this morning and then had to travel, plus you have to remember that a lot of these girls play on travel teams and might have played six or eight games over the weekend, so they’re a little tired,” said LV head coach Blake Morgan of his team’s early struggles. “As things went on, they got to know each other better and really started to get into playing in these games. I think that first game was just a rough start and maybe some nerves thrown in there.”

In game two, Lehigh Valley faced Inter-AC/BAL, who put up six runs in the first inning. Lehigh Valley came right back with eight runs in two innings to surge ahead 8-6. Northampton’s Taylor Kranzley, who played a flawless shortstop throughout the three games, tripled with the bases loaded and Northwestern Lehigh’s Marissa Christman also delivered with the bases loaded, doubling to plate all three runners.

Christman finished the game 4-for-4 with a run scored and five RBIs. Kranzley was again in the middle of the scoring in the fifth when she again cleared the bases, this time with a double, to put Lehigh Valley up 12-6 before Inter-AC/BAL picked up a run in the seventh.

Lehigh Valley (2-1) closed out the day with an 8-7 win over Olympic Colonial, who had won both of its previous games.

Kranzley, Christman and Devin Demchak (Northampton), who batted three, four and five in the Lehigh Valley lineup, combined to go 5-for-12 (.417) with three runs scored and four RBIs as Lehigh Valley scored in each of the first four innings and led from start to finish.

Shayla Morgan, the only Emmaus player on this year’s roster, and Rozalee Negron (Easton) hit ahead of the big three and both scored two runs in the game with Morgan collecting two hits and Negron delivering a triple.

“This is really fun,” said Morgan of being a part of the team. “We just need to get our bats going and I really believe that as the games go on, we’ll keep getting better as we get to learn more about how we play, and our chemistry starts to build.”

In the three games, Morgan, who will be a junior at Emmaus next season, hit .375 (3-for-8) with three runs scored for Lehigh Valley.

On the mound, Jen Milisits (Central Catholic) threw four shutout innings in the opener, allowing just two hits and Demchak allowed just one run in three innings for Lehigh Valley against Inter-AC/BAL. Freedom’s Julia Griffith pitched in all three games, combining for 7 1/3 innings and giving up just four hits and one run.

Burlington County and Olympic Colonial also finished the day 2-1 with Lehigh Valley being given the top seed from the bracket based on allowing the fewest average number of runs allowed between the three teams. Olympic Colonial also advanced to day three by virtue of their win over Burlington County.

“It’s been tough not knowing all of the girls and how they play, but the chemistry is there,” said Morgan. “A lot of us know each other from our high school teams and travel teams, so there are little groups of us that know each other better than we do other players. We only had one practice, so it’s going to take a little time.”

Blake Morgan believes that his team has the talent to play deep into the tournament. It will play Wednesday morning before potentially moving into the semifinals and finals later in the day as they look for their first tournament win since 2008.

“There’s no doubt that we have some real talent and I’m excited about this team,” he said. “I like the way the chemistry has built up and it’s going to be interesting to see how this all goes.”

PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSON Emmaus's Shayla Morgan had two hits in Lehigh Valley's Carpenter Cup softball win over Olympic-Colonial.