District 6 honors past, present

LOCK HAVEN – Mifflin County senior Taylor Boyer finished her high school softball days in memorable fashion, as she was part of the team that won the first District 6 softball championship any team in the county has won since the 1980s, but that wasn’t the final mark Boyer would make on the district.

Thursday, Boyer got to compete in the PSBCA Hall of Fame Game, in which the seniors from District 6 and District 4 put their best on the field to end their high school softball days.

But Thursday’s activities weren’t just about this years seniors. The day also highlighted some faces from the past, as former Lewistown Panther Angela Rocco and Indian Valley graduate Mandy Wilson were both inducted in to the District 6 Hall of Fame.

In the game, Boyer competed in the first five innings, during which the two teams had it knotted up at 1-1. Following a break for hall of fame inductions, a new set of players took the field for each team, with District 4 taking the final score, 5-3.

Boyer’s five innings included three in right field and two from the mound.

“From my summer team I play the outfield a lot, so I know the fundamentals,” Boyer said.

During the regular season, Boyer spent most of her time as the designated hitter, meaning she didn’t see a lot of action on the field, but when she was in right she fielded a shallow blooper from District 4’s Amanda Daneker.

On the mound, Boyer faced the disappointment of giving up a home run over the right center fence to Jackie Clemens, but in her two innings of work she allowed only one other hit – a harmless single up the middle – struck out one, and induced the other outs through ground balls and pop flies.

“I pitch in the summer, so I was ready to go out there and throw,” Boyer said.

At bat Boyer went 0-for-2 with a strikeout and a ground out 1-3 play. Boyer plays ASA ball for the Central PA Crunch out of Harrisburg, so she’s sure to get plenty of action this summer, and when she goes to Penn State University in the fall for pre-med, she says she hopes to walk on with the softball team.

Other Husky selections included fellow senior Macie Lucas, who opted not to play. Underclassmen Shelby Lyter, Allessa Morrison, Tara Kibe and Mara Rhodes were named to the honors team, but only seniors may compete.

Rocco, a member of the Lewistown softball team from 2002-2005, was an athlete the opposing teams didn’t like to see filling out the pitcher’s spot on the Panthers’ lineup. With a tough assortment of pitches, Rocco made a name for herself from the mound, finishing with an ERA no higher than 1.77 in her four years of varsity competition, and striking out at least 100 batters each season.

“My go to pitch was my curveball,” Rocco said, but she also had a fastball, changeup, riseball and a drop to keep the batter guessing all along.

And guess the batters did. In her high school career, Rocco faced 1,691 batters; nearly a third of them went down on strikes. In her sophomore year, Rocco’s ERA was 0.86.

Rocco batted in the three or four spot in the lineup, and each of her four years her batting average was above .300, with a high during her sophomore year of .420.

“It was a really exciting moment to find out that I was inducted,” Rocco said. “Dave Breon was the one who nominated me to be inducted into it, and I’m so thankful that he did that. I wasn’t expecting it.”

Breon was Lewistown’s coach through Rocco’s first two years and her pitching instructor throughout her four years of varsity. In her four years the Panthers made the District 6 playoff every year before playing two years at St. Francis.

“I feel like it was just kind of closing that chapter of my life,” Rocco said of the induction.

Wilson shook things up from shortstop during her four years of varsity time (1995-1998) with the Warriors. Wilson lives in California now, but she has fond memories of her years playing high school softball in Pennsylvania, including her first varsity start.

As she described it, Wilson was nervous in her first varsity start as a freshman and made plenty of errors, but her older sister told her to calm down and play as if it was in their own back yard, which helped Wilson finish out the game strong.

It was the beginning of a great high school career.

“I liked being in the action,” Wilson said, describing short stop as “a position that you always need to be on your toes.”

Wilson said her experience in high school prepared her for college, where she played four years at third base for Gettysburg. But in high school, it wasn’t just Wilson’s defensive prowess that made her a threat. She said had a batting stance that other people described as unconventional, but it seemed to work for her. Finishing her high school career with a .504 batting average and .678 slugging percentage, Wilson knew how to put the ball in play with her 119 total hits. And when she got on base, she always put her wheels to use, stealing 122 bases total. She was only caught stealing once.

A team player, Wilson was pleased to get the nomination, but turned the focus back on the opportunities she had to play ball growing up in Mifflin County.

“Individual honors are great, but I always just really loved the team aspect of softball,” Wilson said. “I’m completely honored, and I really feel like Indian Valley and my hometown was a great place to grow up.”