In and out of trouble, Dietrich pitches Lions past Lancers in softball

Walkersville softball pitcher Izzy Dietrich could envision that she was about to induce the game’s final out.

Linganore had the tying run on second base for the second straight inning, but Dietrich had deftly worked through jams all afternoon. One more out wasn’t a huge task.

In her mind, Dietrich saw a strikeout. She forced a groundout, though she certainly didn’t mind the incorrect prediction.

Dietrich forced that full-count chopper right back to her, and she calmly completed the play at first to end the Lions’ 4-3 road win Monday.

“That’s huge to be able to come back and fight,” Walkersville coach Randy Hinkelman said. “We don’t get rattled when they’re on the bases. It wasn’t a pretty win, but it was a win, and that’s all you’re looking for.”

The Lions were in that survival mode much of Monday, as the Lancers put runners in scoring position in all but one inning.

But Walkersville (14-2) worked around that, with Dietrich remaining cool to earn weak contact and the occasional strikeout, including freezing a batter looking to end the sixth. Linganore (12-4) left 11 runners on base.

“I just threw the ball where I was told to throw it … and sometimes I just got lucky with some of their swings and misses,” Dietrich said.

It’s not all luck for Dietrich, though.

She’s been a steady half of the Lions’ two-headed pitching rotation for the last three seasons, providing a bit more pace on her pitches than fellow right-hander Caroline Hinkelman, who relies on her offspeed pitches to earn outs. Dietrich took over for Hinkelman in the third inning Monday and helped strand the bases loaded, setting off yet another solid performance.

Part of her success comes in mentally visualizing herself getting a big out before she pitches, something Dietrich has begrudgingly made part of her routine this season.

“My mom makes me do it, and I don’t want to tell her that it helps, but it does help,” Dietrich said. “She loves to tell me to visualize all my important stuff, even with school, and it really does help. It really gets me in the right mindset to do what I need to do.”

The results have shown on the diamond. Dietrich tossed five innings Monday, scattering five hits and allowing one run to earn the win.

Each of those outs proved critical, as Walkersville did not score after the third inning.

“Just putting pressure on their defense,” Randy Hinkelman said. “I don’t know how many pop-ups we had, and strikeouts swinging and looking late in the game, but we were able to put some good at-bats together early in the game.”

Shortstop Ella Montgomery led off the game with the first of her two doubles and later came home on second baseman Karsyn Barrick’s bunt, which drew a throwing error that allowed two runs to score.

Catcher Madison Lepeonka then snuck a two-run homer over the center-field fence in the third, as the ball just glanced off the outstretched glove of leaping Lancers outfielder Gracie Wilson, who nearly pulled it back.

“I just stayed calm through the whole thing,” Lepeonka said. “No matter the count, I don’t get stressed about what it is. Pitch looked good, so I just swung.”

That blast broke a short-lived 2-2 tie, which came about after Linganore shortstop Bradyn MacKay and Wilson knocked consecutive two-out RBI singles in the second inning. First baseman Leo Cline drilled a two-out RBI double in the sixth to bring the game within one.

Caitlin Jacobs threw four scoreless innings of relief for the Lancers, allowing just one hit and striking out four.

That enabled Linganore to threaten again in the seventh, getting the tying run to second base with one out. But Dietrich envisioned the positive end for the Lions, inducing a flyout and groundout to secure the victory.

“We’re just able to stay calm in intense situations like that, and we don’t get stressed out or panic,” Lepeonka said.