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Connelllsville softball team loses 3rd in a row

| Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 9:18 p.m.
Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier
Connellsville's Jackie Cramer delivers a pitch during the Falcons' match up against Norwin on Tuesday afternoon.

The Connellsville softball team started the season on a positive note, but after opening with a win, the Falcons have lost three in a row. The latest setback came Tuesday, as Norwin banged out 18 hits in an 11-4 victory over the host Falcons in Section 1-AAAA.

Norwin's ability to bash the ball, plus Connellsville's three errors, contributed to the Falcons' defeat.

“They hit the ball, and we didn't have the gloves that we needed,” Connellsville coach Tom Nickelson said. “The day was theirs.”

For Norwin, hitting the ball hasn't been a problem. But hitting with runners in scoring position has been an issue that was resolved against Connellsville.

“In our first four games we had 36 hits, but we weren't getting timely hits,” Norwin coach Andy Phipps said. “That was the big difference. We were able to advance runners when they were on base.”

Norwin first hit came from leadoff hitter Christina Skrabak. The freshman drilled a pitch over the fence in left-center to give the Knights (2-3, 1-3) a 1-0 lead. That hit seemed to set the tone for what was to come; Norwin ripped five extra-base hits in the game.

“The leadoff home run by our freshman was a great way to start the game,” Phipps said.

Norwin's lead expanded to 4-0 in the third. Maddy Wensel belted a two-run homer, and Lauren Long collected an RBI single off of Connellsville starter Jackie Cramer.

The Falcons (1-3, 1-3) got back into the game with three runs in their half of the third. Alyssa Orndorff, Cramer and Rachel Oplinger each singled and scored. Oplinger's single knocked in two runs, and Jessica Secrest also picked up an RBI single.

But Norwin's offense was relentless. The Knights tacked on two more runs in the fourth; Nikki Ingel and Wensel hit back-to-back RBI doubles. A Connellsville error opened the door for two more Norwin runs in the fifth.

In the sixth, Ingel, Wensel and Alicia McMichael singled and scored. Ingel and Wensel each finished with four hits.

Connellsville got a run back in the sixth on a sacrifice fly from Emily Keslar, but Norwin pitcher Maddy Miller was able to work her way through all seven innings to earn the win.

“I thought she pitched a really good game, and we outhit the other team,” Phipps said.

Despite the recent slide, Nickelson remains optimistic about his team's chances of success this season.

“I still have all kinds of confidence in our team,” Nickelson said.

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com.

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