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LV advances in CC softball

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 coached had to be up and out of the house, meeting at Philadelphia’s FDR Park by 7 a.m. An hour later, they were 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 from its bracket, giving the team 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 head coach Blake Morgan. “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, but 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 Northampton’s Devin Demchak, hitting 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 (Emmaus) 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.

In Monday’s three games, Christman hit .667 (6-for-9) with three runs scored and six RBI. Christman isn’t just representing Northwestern Lehigh in the Carpenter Cup, but is in effect representing the Colonial League as the only player on this year’s roster who doesn’t play varsity for an East Penn Conference school, which has presented a bit of a challenge for the rising senior third baseman.

“It’s not that it’s really difficult, it’s just a different atmosphere,” said Christman of the competition in the Carpenter Cup. “A lot of these girls are used to bigger and faster pitchers, and this is even more intense when you’re playing girls from Philly and all over the region.”

While Christman plays third base at Northwestern Lehigh and in the first round of Carpenter Cup play, she is a catcher for her travel league team and could potentially see time in that role with Lehigh Valley, if needed.

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 their 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.

Blake Morgan believes that his team has the talent to play deep into the tournament. Lehigh Valley needs two more wins as it looks for its first tournament title since 2008, with the finals planned for late this week.

“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 Northwestern's Marissa Christman went 4-for-4 in Lehigh Valley's win over Inter Ac/BAL Monday in the first day of Carpenter Cup softball action in Philadelphia.