Juniata handles Tigers

MIFFLINTOWN – There might be ruts on the base paths of the Juniata softball field after the Indians’ Tri-Valley League contest against East Juniata on Wednesday.

Both teams got on base plenty of times, but only Juniata consistently took advantage as a five-inning contest went in its favor, 13-2, for the second win of the young season.

The Indians were led at the plate by Micheh Horning, who hit two multiple-run homers – a three-run round trip in the first and a two-run shot to end the game in the fifth – for six RBIs in her 3-for-4 performance.

Horning did her first damage against the Tigers when she hit a line drive off Tigers’ starting pitcher Kasi Horning down the left-field line to bring in Kristen Pray and Victoria Cisney – the two led off the inning with back-to-back walks – along with herself for the three-run lead. From there, Kasi Horning dug in and induced pop outs in the infield – one of which resulted in a double play – to end the inning.

In the top of the second, East Juniata quickly threatened when two walks from Juniata pitcher Maddie Zendt and a double by Meisha Heintzelman had the bases loaded. Things started to look down when East Juniata’s Lydia Hunter made poor contact with a ball that landed directly in front of the plate, allowing Juniata catcher Cisney to make the unassisted putout at home and a quick throw to first for two outs; however, by that point Heintzelman had reached third, and when Zendt threw a wild pitch, the Tigers scored to cut the Juniata lead to 3-1.

East Juniata didn’t score again until the fourth, when Macie Snyder reached from third on an RBI single to left field by Sam Lash. Lash, Heintzelman and Shelly Gabel were the only Tigers to collect hits for East Juniata.

“We were having a hard time just making contact,” East Juniata coach Joe Schilling said, making reference to the several instances throughout the game that the Tigers put the ball in play right in front of home plate.

“It was just a matter of attacking. We just didn’t attack the ball,” he continued.

Juniata, on the other hand, racked up 11 hits in the contest, with multiple-hit performances from Micheh Horning, Mady Marrone and Hannah Welfley.

“It’s been pretty much a team effort hit wise,” said Juniata coach Brian Sheaffer, whose team also had 15 hits against Greenwood on Monday.

Juniata, which scored in every inning, put up three more runs apiece in both the second and third, then finished with two in the fourth and two in the fifth for the win. Two of those runs came on either wild pitches by Kasi Horning or walks from replacement pitcher Heintzelman, but Cisney, Micheh Horning or Pray collected RBIs for the remaining runs.

“That was our goal at the beginning. We said win every inning,” explained Sheaffer, who was very pleased with his team’s batting.

Yet, if at least the Indians could walk away happy with their batting, both teams had some trouble from the circle.

Kasi Horning, who was throwing her first game, walked four and gave up two hits through one-plus innings. Heintzelman gave up only two walks, but allowed nine hits through the remainder of the game.

“(Heintzelman) always has decent control, and the nice thing is trying to keep Juniata off balance. It didn’t work fully the way I wanted it to, but that’s part of the chess match that you’re playing here with softball,” Schilling said.

For Juniata, Zendt only gave up two hits in her four innings, but walked five. Freshman Autumn Young finished the game for the Indians, striking out one and allowing one hit.

“Maddie each game is getting a little bit better,” said Sheaffer, who explained that the Indians’ defense is solid behind her when the ball gets put in play.

Juniata (2-1, 2-1) is off until next week when it hosts Newport, but the Tigers (0-2, 0-2) will see the Buffaloes first when they travel to Newport on Friday.