SPRING MILLS - Wednesday, Mifflin County traveled north to play against Penns Valley in an 11- and 12-year-old District 5 softball contest.
Mifflin County got off to a strong start and looked confident throughout, allowing Penns Valley only three runs in the 9-3, first-round victory.
Offensively, Mifflin County hit the ball in clutch situations while the Purple and White's hurler on the mound, Leesha Shilling, worked a strong complete game effort, striking out seven while allowing just three hits to go with Penns Valley's three runs.
"We had timely hitting and had streaky hitting but it just so happened that when we had base runners on the girls got a little more animated and got a little more excited and they put the ball in play when we had the runners in position," Mifflin County manager Sonny Ciccolini said. "One thing we have to work getting a little bit more aggressive at the beginning of the inning when we don't have anyone on."
Mifflin County wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as it came out and manufactured a run in the top of the first.
Skylar Ciccolini got the inning going when she singled over the outstretched arm of the third baseman.
Hannah Crossley took one for the team as she was hit by a Rams offering, putting runners on first and second. Ciccolini moved up on two consecutive stolen bases, putting her in scoring position with only one out.
Whitney Kenepp hustled out a slow roller to first, forcing the Penns Valley first baseman to throw home to try to get Ciccolini, who was running on the play.
In the bottom of the inning, Shilling started strong, striking out 2-of-3 batters.
Penns Valley tied the game up in the bottom of the second despite a strong showing from Shilling.
Ryah Kline picked up her team's first hit of the game when she took a Shilling offering into shallow center.
Kaylah Kline put runners on the corners when she reached on an error.
With two outs, Shilling got Haley Harpster to strike out, but the ball scooted on the ground and Harpster reached first while Ryah Kline scored.
However, that was the only run Penns Valley was able to get from the stingy Mifflin County defense in the inning.
Despite having the game tied in the second, Mifflin County got back to its clutch hitting, plating two runs to go back on top, 3-1.
With one out, Crossely singled to center field. She then stole second, setting the stage for Kenepp,who did not disappoint when she blasted an RBI double that brought Mifflin County back the lead.
Teammate Allie Goss brought in Kenepp on an RBI fielder's choice.
Both defenses held the other team scoreless in the third and fourth innings, but Mifflin County's bats came alive in the fifth.
Ciccolini led off the inning with a rocket shot that ricocheted off the foot of the Rams' third baseman. She later stole second, putting herself in scoring position. But the Penns Valley defense cut her down at the plate after a passed ball.
Crossley kept the hitting going as well as Kenepp as they both posted singles. Kenepp's blast was able to score Crossley, increasing the lead to 4-1.
With two runners on base, Shilling helped her own cause as she poked a two RBI single to center.
Leading 6-1, McKenna Seese brought in Shilling when she also singled to center field.
Penns Valley added two runs in the bottom of the inning, closing it to 7-3, but that was as close as Penns Valley got as Mifflin County nailed things down defensively en route to the 9-3 victory.
Mifflin County will be back in action Friday as it plays the winner of the State College/ Bald Eagle Area game at a location to be determined.