Eagles’ hurler dominant in state win

UNIVERSITY PARK – Cumberland Valley used a dominant performance from pitcher Kayla Sullenberger to eliminate the Mifflin County Huskies 9-1 on Monday evening in the opening round of the PIAA Class AAAA softball tournament at Penn State University’s Beard Field.

Sullenberger allowed only six hits, holding Mifflin County well below its season average, and struck out three during the complete game gem. She also gave Mifflin County fits from the plate as she went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a single.

“(Kayla) was very good,” said Mifflin County manager Jack McCurdy. “We had to play our best game against her, and we just didn’t.”

Despite the lopsided outcome, the first couple innings of the game indicated that fans were in store for a pitcher’s duel. Mifflin County starting pitcher Shelby Lyter retired the first four batters she faced en route to keeping the Eagles off the scoreboard in the first two innings.

Things began to unravel for the locals in the top of the third inning when Lyter issued a leadoff walk to Cumberland Valley’s Alexa Erney, followed by a well-placed bunt single from Zoe St. Cyr. Jill Arnoso moved the runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt, setting up a sacrifice fly from Taylor Krow.

Huskies catcher Allessa Morrison bobbled the throw home and the ball rolled to the backstop, allowing St. Cyr to score, giving the Eagles a 2-0 lead they would never reliniquish.

Cumberland Valley pushed across two more unearned runs in the fourth inning after a Sullenberger double set up a sacrifice bunt followed by two consecutive Mifflin County errors that made it 4-0.

“Cumberland Valley’s a very good team, we knew that coming in,” McCurdy said. “We knew they were going to hit the ball, and they did. And we helped them. We made some bad decisions and some poor throws. You can’t give a team that good those kinds of opportunities.”

Mifflin County continued to give Cumberland Valley easy opportunities to score in the sixth inning when Sullenberger laced a double into the left-center field gap and later scored on a wild pitch by Huskies pitcher Rachel Zimmerman, who relieved Lyter after five innings. Cumberland Valley pushed across two more runs later in the sixth to increase the lead to 8-0 and essentially end the locals’ hopes of a comeback.

Sullenberger proved to not need the huge advantage that her offense gave her. She gave up a leadoff single to Morrison in the bottom of the inning but quickly disposed of the next three Husky batters to end the threat before it even got started.

Sullenberger’s bid for a shutout ended in the seventh when Macie Lucas singled to start the inning and later scored on Kali Hunter’s pinch-hit double. Moments later the Huskies’ season came to an end when Tara Kibe flew out to right field.