Harding softball learns lesson in loss to South Range

CANFIELD – After Friday’s 6-0 loss to South Range in the Mahoning Valley Invitational Tournament, Warren G. Harding coach Bruce Whetzel knew the better team won the game. However, he felt the score wasn’t indicative of how his team fared.

“Honestly, it was a 2-0 game,” Whetzel said. “If you eliminate the errors, you’re at 2-0. South Range is a very good team that has seen some tough competition. I think the better team won today.”

Out of the six runs that South Range scored, three were on errors and one was on a wild pitch. The first earned run came in the fifth inning when Sarah Moretti singled in Stevie Taylor to give the Raiders of Mahoning County the 4-0 lead. The second came in the sixth inning, when Carly DeRose hit an RBI triple, scoring Jordan Youngs.

“We have to teach these girls the mental part of the game,” Whetzel said. “Physically, they can play and do all the things we ask them to do. But it’s the mental game and the situations we need to work on. What you’re going to do with the ball when you get it. This game is something we have to build on. Sometimes you have to see something in games like this and then learn from it.”

South Range also did a solid job of keeping the Raiders of Warren off of the base path. DeRose struck out seven, walked two and scattered three hits in five innings for the win. On the opposite side, South Range got 10 hits, with three players having multiple hits, including DeRose with a single, double and triple.

“We are always going to come out swinging the bat,” Feren said. “Carly had a little bit of an off night (on the mound), but you’ll have those.”

In reality, Whetzel and Feren both admitted to the two teams being on different levels, even though their records were similar coming in to Friday’s contest. South Range (10-1) is an experienced team, with five seniors who played on the regional qualifying team in 2011. Though they lost to Champion that year – the eventual Division III champion – their sights are set on making a deep run in the tournament and hopefully to the state title game.

As for Harding (8-2), the team is off to one of the best starts in school history and have earned quality wins over Lakeview and Twinsburg. However, Whetzel knows his team still has a long way to go to be able to be in the category as one of the elite teams in the area.

“Our kids are stepping up and working hard,” Whetzel said. “I think we have had some quality wins, but we are still trying to rebuild this program. And our kids are responding. We need to now concentrate on the little things and eliminate those mistakes before we can consider ourselves on the elite level.”

While Whetzel knows his team has a long way to go, Feren can already see the improvement Harding has made in a few short years.

“I was very impressed with them,” Feren said. “Bruce is doing a tremendous job and is really turning their program around.”

The two teams will play again today as the last part of the invitational tournament. Harding advances in the loser’s bracket and will face Pymatuning Valley at noon. South Range advances in the winner’s portion and will face Austintown Fitch, also at noon.