Loyalsock beats South Williamsport in Elm Park Town League softball game

Loyalsock graduate Maddy Jean soon will be playing again. Even when not on the field, Jean is still making an impact.

Her understudies showed Wednesday night how much they have learned watching Jean pitch and how much that could benefit the team over the next three years.

Marissa Helmrich and Hannah Winter combined on a three-hitter and allowed just one earned run at Wednesday’s Elm Park Town League and Loyalsock improved to 2-0, downing South Williamsport, 6-3. Loyalsock scored six second-inning runs, Helmrich threw 3 2/3 no-hit innings and also hit a two-run double while Winter added a triple.

All three likely would have pitched last spring for the high school team had the COVID-19 pandemic not forced the season’s cancellation. Jean was going to be the team’s ace, but Helmrich and Winter could have provided outstanding depth. Both were eager to play with Jean and offered her a nice tribute last night.

“I was pretty upset that I couldn’t play my freshman year. I especially wanted to get some more varsity experience watching Maddy play. She’s a great role model,” Helmrich said after allowing one hit, no runs and striking out seven in four innings. “She was going to teach me another pitch and she’s great to look up to. Her attitude on and off the field are great. I was looking forward to watching her and I’m happy I’m going to get to play with her in a few weeks.”

Loyalsock has scored 26 runs in its first two league games and Helmrich has earned the win each time. She overpowered South for four innings and Winter’s effective off-speed pitches were the perfect complement to Helmrich’s speed. South (1-1) never recorded more than a hit in an inning and stranded 10 runners.

“I was saying that I was hoping South can’t adjust to her in the fifth inning and they were so far ahead of it,” Loyalsock assistant coach Eric McNulty said. “You have about a 5-6 mile per hour difference in velocity and Hannah got a lot of groundballs and they worked well together.”

Both pitchers also played prominent roles in the game’s decisive rally. Loyalsock’s first seven batters reached base in the second inning and Loyalsock scored six runs during that span, going up 6-0. Hailey Berkhiser hit an RBI single and Winter drew an RBI walk, bringing in the game’s first runs.

The big blows came with the next two hitters. Helmrich slammed a two-run double to deep center field and Kam Pryor followed with a double to deep left field. Just like that, Loyalsock was up 6-0 and South was facing quite an uphill battle.

“I think we’re going to be great (in the future),” Helmrich said. “We have a lot of talent and a lot of players who can hit.”

South relievers Hailey Debrody and Aleigha Rieppel were outstanding in relief and prevented Loyalsock from scoring any more runs. Debrody retired the last nine batters she faced and Rieppel threw three scoreless innings, both giving South a shot at a comeback.

Helmrich worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth and Winter stranded five runners in scoring position over the final three innings after South took advantage of six Loyalsock errors. Debrody did all she could to help South rally, going 2 for 3 with a double and a home run over the fence in dead center field. She also turned a double play and made some excellent plays in the pitching circle.

“That home run was a shot. Any time you hit a ball to center field, a line drive like that, your mechanics are perfect,” South coach Tom O’Malley said. “She did a nice job and stopped the bleeding and made a great play in the first inning with the double play at third base. She’s a really good athlete.”

Lilly Eiswerth broke up Helmrich’s no-hitter with a rocket single up the middle in the fourth inning, but the timely hit with runners on base eluded South. Still, South did not flinch after that six-run second inning and produced plenty of positives moving forward.

“They could have put their heads down but they didn’t. We told them there’s five innings to go, let’s try and outplay them one inning at a time and they did. I’m proud of them for that,” O’Malley said. “We’ll see them get better every week from playing. It’s all teaching moments.”


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