McDaniel junior Payton Lewis leads the Centennial Conference in batting average at .469, and she has been a big part of the Green Terror's 12-1-1 league record.
McDaniel junior Payton Lewis leads the Centennial Conference in batting average at .469, and she has been a big part of the Green Terror's 12-1-1 league record. (photo courtesy of mcdaniel)

McDaniel hosted the Centennial Conference softball tournament two years ago and came away with a championship.

Players on this year's team, many of whom contributed to the 2015 title, want nothing more than to craft a repeat performance. And it starts with being the top seed in the conference tournament.

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The Green Terror (21-12-1) are poised to do just that.

They'll earn the No. 1 spot with two more Centennial wins, and the regular season comes to a close this Saturday with a doubleheader at Haverford. McDaniel is 12-1-1 in conference play and primed to capture its eighth Centennial title and qualify for the NCAA tournament.

"We definitely feel like we're in a good spot," said Stacie Maring, an outfielder and South Carroll graduate. "In our minds, our journey is just beginning. The season may be coming to an end, but this is the fun part. They journey is just getting started."

Two years ago, the Green Terror were backed by an ace in Caroline Brehm, who finished her college career with 93 wins and 1,359 strikeouts. They went 29-12 and 13-0 at home, clipping Gettysburg 2-1 in nine innings in the Centennial finals. That Terror team's offense averaged 5.9 runs per game.

This year's squad averages 4.8 runs per game, but balance seems to be key to McDaniel's success. The Green Terror are batting .291 as a team, with six regulars hitting .301 or higher.

Payton Lewis, a junior utility player, leads the Centennial with a .469 average. Junior infielder Tayler Hishon is tied for the conference lead in RBIs with 22. Senior outfielder Lindsey Miller's 18 stolen bases are tops in the league.

McDaniel senior infielder Olivia Kipe, a Manchester Valley graduate, is hitting .301 with nine doubles and 19 RBIs for the Green Terror softball team.
McDaniel senior infielder Olivia Kipe, a Manchester Valley graduate, is hitting .301 with nine doubles and 19 RBIs for the Green Terror softball team. (photo courtesy of mcdaniel)

Senior infielders Jamie Weisser and Olivia Kipe, a Manchester Valley grad, have three home runs apiece (tied for third most in the Centennial).

"We've always had pretty good chemistry, but this year it just seems to all fit very well," Kipe said. "We all have each other's backs ... and we're all there to work. That's one of our main goals, is to win."

Kipe said having a capable pitching staff, rather than one player on which to lean, has been a luxury this spring. Sophomore Fiona Johnson, the reigning Centennial Pitcher of the Week, is 9-3 with a 2.26 ERA (fourth lowest in the conference). Weisser has made 15 appearances as a pitcher with a 7-1 record. Junior Valerie Lamb and freshman Cassie Rickrode have combined for five wins and five saves.

Johnson led McDaniel to a 5-1 record last week and went 4-0 with a 0.36 ERA in 19 1/3 innings.

"We all support each other in the way we should," Lewis said. "We know that we can trust whoever goes in that they can get the job done."

Lewis said she wouldn't have believed when the season began she'd be leading the Centennial in batting average by nearly 60 points, and the Florida native said she's "psyched" about how this season has gone for her. She has five three-hit games this spring, but despite going 0-for-5 in McDaniel's doubleheader Sunday against Dickinson, Lewis said she's continuing to work hard at the plate.

South Carroll graduate Stacie Maring, a grad student and outfielder for McDaniel's softball team, is hoping to lead the Terror to their eighth Centennial Conference championship next week.
South Carroll graduate Stacie Maring, a grad student and outfielder for McDaniel's softball team, is hoping to lead the Terror to their eighth Centennial Conference championship next week. (photo courtesy of mcdaniel)

"I don't want to go downhill, especially because this is the best part of the season," said Lewis, who has seven doubles and 19 RBIs. "Usually it's just kind of seeing the pitchers ... having confidence in myself going up there [thinking] I'm going to get a hit, I'm going to get on base no matter what way it is. I'm going to get on and I'm going to do my job."

That "do my job" mentality has served McDaniel well this spring, Kipe said. She's one of five players on the Green Terror's roster who are preparing for the last few weeks of their college careers.

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If McDaniel sweeps Haverford on Saturday, next week's Centennial tourney comes to Westminster. Washington College (22-14, 11-3) and Gettysburg (22-9-1, 9-4-1) figure to be contenders, but the Terror are the favorites.

"I'm very excited," said Kipe, who is batting .301 with nine doubles and 19 RBIs. "We're sitting in a good spot in the conference. We love our home field, and that is one thing you can't change. We had playoffs at [Washington] last year and it was a completely different atmosphere.

"So we want it at home again ... that would be amazing, especially going out as a senior. I mean, I don't want it to end. It's been a great ride."

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