PHILADELPHIA Regardless of the final outcome of the tournament, Martina Herring is likely experiencing one summer event she won't quickly forget.
Herring allowed four hits and recorded three strikeouts over three innings of relief to help preserve Lehigh Valley's opening 14-2 victory over Inter-Ac in the second day of the Seventh Annual Softball Carpenter Cup at FDR Park.
The recent Palmerton junior also scored a run in Lehigh Valley's four-run fifth inning that provided them with a commanding lead. From there, Lehigh Valley battled through a 2-1 victory over Berks County before they fell to Mercer County, 8-0 in the finale on a sun-splashed afternoon.
Lehigh Valley will return to play this afternoon at 3 p.m. in the hunt for their third overall crown, winning previous titles in 2006 and 2008. Lehigh Valley would need to win twice today to reach Thursday morning's championship game in the 15-team, double-elimination tournament.
"This is a great experience for all of us, and it is an honor to be here," said Herring, who plays for the traveling team Pocono Pride during the summer. "This is similar to tournament ball, but you can feel a little bit more pressure here because of the compact schedule. We don't have a lot of room for error.
"I was hitting all my spots out there and I felt good. I wasn't totally surprised with our run total in the first game because we're all very good players, and we're all pretty confident we can get through this."
Herring currently has her sights on getting to the championship Thursday, but she has set her future sights on extending her softball career in college at possibly Kutztown, Penn State Hazleton, or possibly another local college.
Northern Lehigh's Megan Filchner smacked a two-run single in the fifth against Inter-Ac. The soon-to-be-senior has also had a worthwhile experience in her first visit to Phillies-sponsored high school showcase.
"It is a great experience for anyone who wants to become a better player," said Filchner, who also plans to play softball in college at an undetermined location. "The competition is better and different here than we tend to see at home. It is a better competition here. Most girls are more serious here than the other tournaments.
"I thought our first game would be closer, but we all got our bats going. We know we will have to rely on our pitching and defense, though, to keep us going."
In their opener against Inter-Ac, Northampton sophomore Tori Gellie struck out seven of the first 11 batters she faced and gave way to Herring in the fifth after she allowed two runs on four hits. High school teammate Marlaina Laubach allowed one run over four innings in the team's 2-1 victory over Berks County.
"I felt pretty good out there," said Gellie. "We all get along and we're having fun. We were glad to get out to a big lead and it's great to have support like that. The tournament is very challenging, but we're all confident we can keep it going."