Tigers top Midd-West in high-scoring contest

COCOLAMUS – Autumn Dressler blasted a two-run homer to left field in the third inning Monday, setting of a firestorm of East Juniata scoring that propelled the Tigers into the lead and on to an 11-9 non-league softball win over Midd-West.

Dressler’s well-played shot couldn’t have come at a better time – the home team was struggling against the Mustangs, who were just as hungry for a win. Midd-West took the early lead, but the six-run frame that saw 12 batters step into the box all but doomed Midd-West.

The Mustangs made comeback efforts in the fourth and sixth, but East Juniata was able to stave off the attack with runs in the former and defense at the end of the game.

Down 4-3 going into the bottom of the third – and having stopped Midd-West from scoring for the first time in the game – the Tigers got a leadoff single from Meisha Heintzelman, who was the tying run on Dressler’s go-ahead round-tripper.

Then, with one out, East Juniata got six consecutive base hits, which along with an error and a wild pitch, put four more runners across the plate to make it 9-4. And it could have been worse – the bases were loaded when Heintzelman walked on her second trip of the frame, but the Mustangs caught two fly balls to end the misery.

“It’s that big inning that we have every game,” lamented Midd-West coach Pete Voss. “We were sky high – we were up 4-0, then we were up 4-2, then we gave up all those runs. That is a little deflating.”

East Juniata coach Joe Schilling was just happy his team woke up after a lackadaisical pair of innings to start the game.

“Everything was just so calm – no spunk on the sidelines,” he said. “I think it would have been more beneficial to keep the spirits up.”

In the top of the first, Midd-West’s leadoff batter, Brii Zeigler, reached on an error and scored the first run of the game on an Alley Sharp single.

East Juniata bounced back in the bottom, taking a 2-1 lead. Taylor Marker singled to open her team’s side and Lauren Maguire drew a walk; Heintzelman and Dressler each drove a run in on ground outs.

The see-saw tilted back to the Mustangs in the second thanks to a walk, an error and pair of base hits, with Zeigler and Sharp again doing the heavy lifting. A three-run frame made it 4-2; the Tigers got just one of those back in the bottom of the second.

To that point, Schilling said, the game was not too different than what he’s seen all season – good things tempered by bad, mistakes allowing opponents to capitalize.

“Hitting-wise, I think we struggled. Fielding-wise, we really struggled. I don’t think we attacked the ball the way we should have,” on defense especially, he said. “That’s been the story of the season, the little things. I’m wanting them to really step up. They have at times – and then other times they’re just kind of lax.”

Voss saw it from a different perspective: “We came out aggressive, we hit better today, we scored more runs than we have all year.”

But most of those runs had yet to be scored – and they’d be scored in a chase, not in a lead.

East Juniata made it 4-3 going into the third, and kept the Mustangs to a pair of stranded base runners in that inning.

Then came the bottom of the third, where the Tigers did all the damage.

Midd-West stayed in the game with five runs across the next three innings. But another miscue cost the Mustangs in the fourth when, after scoring three runs, a fourth was denied – and the inning ended – when a runner failed to tag up on a fly ball.

And the Tigers scored what became the winning margin in the fourth; Ashlyn Erhard, who was the winning pitcher, had the second homer of the day to help her own cause.

“They played the entire game, gave effort, scored a bunch,” Voss said of his team. “It gave us a shot there at the end.”

The high-scoring JV game ended in favor of Midd-West, 31-25.

Midd-West travels to Selinsgrove today, first to finish a suspended game from earlier in the season then to complete their season series. East Juniata travels to Line Mountain today.