Maidens embrace playoff appearance

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You might say the Waynesboro Maidens varsity softball team made a hard slide into the District 3-5A playoffs – and somehow made it before the tag.

Two weeks ago, the Maidens were sitting pretty at the eighth spot in the District 3 power rating. But a four-game losing streak to end the season nearly put an end to the team’s goal of reaching the postseason.

When Waynesboro lost to Mechanicsburg last Wednesday, it seemed like all hope was lost and the Maidens would spend the offseason making summer plans.

But when the final power rating was posted Thursday night, Waynesboro was in the 16-team field at number 16.

Who cares if Waynesboro (12-7) faces top seed Exeter Township (16-4) on Monday in Berks County. The first pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. As far as head coach Steven McElroy’s team is concerned, anybody has a chance to win in postseason play, even a 16th seed.

“Last week was our toughest week with regards to the strength of schedule,” said McElroy. “We played very good teams and had the lead late in 3 of the 4 games. Each of those games we made costly mistakes down the stretch that we could not recover from. Playing those tough games helped uncover a few weaknesses in our game that we have since addressed as a team.”

The Maidens will get the chance to see if the work they’ve put in to patch up the vulnerabilities will work – or not.

“Exeter Township has very good team speed so it will be critical to play solid defense and not give them extra outs,” McElroy said. “Offensively we need to be patient and wait for our pitch.”

Upsets happen all the time in sports. If you’ve seen the Maidens play, the way they put up runs and play solid defense with adequate pitching to keep games close, even a hardened skeptic would have to think twice before counting Waynesboro out.

Besides, take a look at the Maidens’ schedule and you’ll see how hard it was just to get to where they’re at. Shippensburg is seeded second at 5A, while Northern York is 14th in 5A.

Big Spring is the second seed in Class 4A.

Who knows? Maybe the juggernaut that was the last week of the regular season was just what the team needed.

“During our seven-game winning streak we were hitting the ball up and down the line up and playing very solid defense. In addition, our pitching has been very strong keeping us in every game,” said McElroy.

The Maidens can be lethal at the plate. Three players are batting above .400 and another well above .300.

Slaydon Fisher and Abby McElroy boast batting averages of .468 and .465, respectively. Michelle Baker is batting .431, while Karsyn Moore is hitting .397.

Waynesboro scored 156 runs in its 12 games and only nine in its four losses, including a 3-0 shutout at the hands of Shippensburg and a 10-0 loss to Big Spring in back-to-back games.

It’s a new season, with a catch. Each season is one game, and the loser goes home.