LEWISTOWN - In a game full of momentum swings, Mifflin County relied on its experience in the field and capabilities at the plate to hold off a feisty Red Land softball team, 5-2, on Thursday.
The Huskies had an early 2-0 lead after the first inning when they jumped on Red Land starting pitcher Taylor Tartley for three of their seven total hits, including an RBI triple from Mara Rhodes. The game then went into a holding pattern as Tartley held the Huskies hitless through the next three innings, while Mifflin County pitcher Shelby Lyter kept the Patriots off the bases entirely until a Miranda Zehring single up the middle in the top of the fourth.
In those four innings, Lyter recorded six of her eight total strikeouts - four of them looking - and didn't give up a single walk. However, after Zehring got the Patriots' first hit in the fourth, it opened up the gates for Red Land to change the score.
Sentinel photo by BRADLEY KREITZER
Mifflin County’s Tara Kibe bunts an incoming pitch during the Huskies’ 5-2 win over Red Land on Thursday at Highland Park Elementary School.
In the top of the next inning, Reagan Gettys led off with a single to shallow left field. Lyter issued a free pass to the next batter, Ashley Carroll, and it became an issue minutes later when Alyssa Munns struck a single up the middle that center fielder Rhodes missed on the ground, allowing both Gettys and Carroll to score.
"(Lyter) got into a tough situation there for a little while," Mifflin County coach Jack McCurdy said, but gave Lyter and the defense credit for getting out of the inning when a strikeout to Tartley, a pop up caught by catcher Morrison on an attempted bunt and an unassisted putout at first by Hannah Ruby got the Huskies out of the inning with Red Land runners stranded at first and third.
"I said to (Lyter), 'Just keep throwing. Keep excellerating through. Trust yourself, you know you're good enough to do this.' And she settled in, and we got out of that tough inning," McCurdy explained.
With the game tied at 2-2 and the Huskies in a hitless slump after their three first-inning hits, the offense came through in the clutch just as the defense had a half inning before to take the final lead of the game.
After a ground out by Taylor Dietrich to lead off the bottom of the fifth, Taylor McKay reached first on a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch, then came home after Morrison ripped a double to deep center field for the 3-2 lead.
Morrison then stole third base and Tara Kibe put the ball in play in the infield and reached on a dropped ball by first baseman Brittney Carroll to put runners at first and third.
In the next at bat, Rhodes redeemed herself for the runs off her error in the top half of the inning when her 6-3 ground out brought Morrison home for the RBI, and Kibe also scored when Carroll overthrew third trying to get her out, allowing the final run of the game to score.
The Huskies again had a chance to score in the sixth when they had the bases loaded and one out, but a misread signal resulting in a botched suicide squeeze at home and a 4-3 ground out kept the final score at 5-2.
Of the Huskies' seven hits, five were to the right side - a fact that pleased McCurdy
"(Tartley) stayed on the outside of the plate, and I thought that's something our kids did a good job with. It's something we talk about a lot. You have to find what the pitcher's doing," he said, explaining that he and the coaching staff had been instructing the team to hit the ball where it was pitched.
The Huskies also had no strikeouts the entire game, and on defense McCurdy identified Ruby's double play from first in the bottom of the sixth as a key moment in maintaining the Huskies' momentum.
"She threw a dart to second base to make that double play," he said of his first baseman, who had caught a foul ball near the fence at first, then threw out runner Abby Murphy at second for the double play.
In JV action, the Huskies dominated with a 17-0 win.
Mifflin County (5-0, 5-0 Commonwealth Division) returns to action Monday in a home game against Chambersburg.