The Westminster Jaycees Cougars recently won the Girls Slow-Pitch Softball League Junior Division championship.
The Westminster Jaycees Cougars recently won the Girls Slow-Pitch Softball League Junior Division championship. (Courtesy photo)

Herb Eyler warned his Cougars as they prepared to play for the postseason championship of the Westminster Jaycees Girls Slow-Pitch Softball League’s Junior Division a couple of weeks ago.

“I told them that everybody was out for us. We had a target on our backs,” the team’s coach said.


The reason for that was simple. They finished first this year. Last year, they swept the Junior Division’s three championships including the regular season plus the pre and postseason tournaments.

And teams just love to knock off champions.

However, the Cougars coach needn't have worried. His team of high school-aged players easily swept three games to win the postseason title for the second consecutive year.

Eyler had felt his Cougars’ chances of winning were very good from the start. Twelve of the players from last year's championship squad were back. He had only needed to recruit a couple of new ones.

The Cougars opened the season with eight straight wins.

Eyler explained that the first game of the year, which they won 16-3, confirmed his rosy outlook.

“That was the key point for the year,” Eyler said. “We got to know that we had a good squad and could go all the way.”

They lost Game 9 to the Hawks 10-7, but then won their final four regular-season games. The Cougars finished in first place in the Junior Division with a 12-1 record.

They would be the No. 1 seed in the postseason tournament. The entire tournament was scheduled to be played at Westminster’s Jaycees Field on June 2.

And while Eyler had warned his players that everybody was trying to knock them off, he expected his girls to win the tournament nevertheless.

“The girls were prepared,” he said. “I told them they’d worked hard and that they deserved to win. The tournament was theirs to lose. That was my speech to them.”

The Cougars opened with a 21-0 romp over the Aces, a team they had already beaten four times this year. Maddie Hott, Maddie Smith, and Emma Lemmerman were each 3-for-3. Megan Beares and Madison Hockenberry both went 2-for-2. Hockenberry also scored two runs.

Catcher Kimberly Lapiderio, one of the two new players, played well defensively, was 2-for-3 and drove in two.

Left fielder Cat Zaepfel was 2-for-2 with two RBI. Zaepfel, who was the team’s MVP for the year, batted .825 for the season, hit four home runs and drove in 42 runs.


In Game 2, the Cougars faced the pesky Hawks who had authored their only loss back in May. This time though, it was a vastly different story; the Cougars won 13-3.

The winners left little doubt in this one; they scored eight runs in the second inning to pull ahead 11-2. The first eight girls who batted in that inning scored runs, and the team played errorless ball in the rout.

Winning pitcher Morgan Click “pitched a phenomenal game,” Eyler said.

Click, Taylor Wood, and Mary Zaepfel were each 2-for-2 in the game. Outfielder Kayla Snyder was 1-for-2, scored two runs and drove in another. The Hawks, who the Cougars had expected to play in the final, were knocked out by the Marlins in their meeting.

The championship game had to be postponed that day because it rained. The game was played June 4.

However, the delay didn’t dull the Cougars’ intensity any. The Marlins, who had lost once, would have had to beat the undefeated Cougars twice to take the title. But they never came close.

The Cougars walloped the Marlins 14-2 in the championship game. The winners clinched things early with five runs in the opening inning and six more in the third.

Julia Eyler was 2-for-3 with two doubles and three RBIs. Kayla Carter, a versatile player who could fill in at a lot of positions, was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Delany Stevens went 2-for-2 with two RBIs.

Eyler felt that Hockenberry was his team’s MVP for the tournament. She never made an out in the three games. The outfielder went 7-for-7, scoring six runs and driving in six.

While having all high school players gave his team an advantage over the other squads which rostered eighth-graders, Eyler was very pleased with their performance. He also appreciated the dedication which accounted for his having a number of older players who had stayed with the Cougars for a number of seasons.

“They keep having fun and want to come back year after year after year,” Eyler said. “As a coach, that makes you feel good.”

There is also a good chance he will contend again next year; only three or four players age out, Eyler said.

So he and assistant coaches Rob Smith, Mark Click, John Lemmerman and Mike Blaney could be celebrating again this time next year.

This year was a back-to-back (championship),” Eyler said. “Next year, we’re going for a three-peat.”