Early meeting no harbinger of championship tilt for Huskies

LEWISTOWN – The District 6 Class AAAA softball championship game won’t be the first time Mifflin County and Central Mountain have met this season, but it will surely be a lot different than the first one.

Last time the teams played, on April 26, Mifflin County’s No. 1 pitcher Shelby Lyter and her sub-1 ERA wasn’t in the circle.

Hannah Ruby got the start in an early morning game at the Philipsburg tournament after Lyter (13-4) had thrown nine innings in a Mifflin County win the afternoon before.

Central Mountain got to Ruby and took the opener of its own tournament by a 10-1 final.

Mifflin County coach Jack McCurdy knows that this time the game has to be different.

“We’re going to have to play a complete game tomorrow,” McCurdy said. “When we faced them up at that … tournament they hit the ball, to their credit. We were missing three kids that day that were taking SATs. We had some kids that were playing new positions. Defensively, we made some miscues that really gave them momentum.

“We’ve got to play solid defense tomorrow,” he said. “I’m pretty comfortable Shelby will throw a good game. Thirdly, we need to hit.”

Barring something very strange happening, the Wildcats will get a look at the Huskies’ ace.

“I know they are a good hitting team,” McCurdy said. “They have a couple kids that really see the ball well. When we threw (Hannah) Ruby against them, Ruby doesn’t have quite the variety of pitches that Shelby does. I’m thinking having Shelby there is a big advantage.

“They haven’t seen her (this year),” McCurdy said. “Some of those girls faced her last year when we played them. Shelby’s throwing a little bit different this year. She’s got a few different pitches in her arsenal that really help a lot. For example, her change-up. Her change-up is a lot better than it was last year. That’s a pitch that I’m very comfortable calling this year.”

This is the third consecutive season that Central Mountain and Mifflin County have met in the District 6 Class AAAA title game.

Central Mountain won the 2012 meeting 4-1 – the final year that Mifflin County played a Mountain League schedule, albeit not as a member of the league – while the Huskies took last season’s championship 3-2 after their first year in the Mid-Penn Conference.

Both the probable starting pitchers, Lyter for Mifflin County and Rachael Shady for Central Mountain, started the championship game last year.

Lyter earned the win and Shady took the loss in that game.

Huskies’ junior catcher Allessa Morrison had two hits while junior outfielder Maggie Wray and senior outfielder Tara Kibe each knocked in a run.

“Last year they had, like, seven seniors on their team,” McCurdy said. “What they’ve done is reloaded with a group of juniors and seniors. They have quite a few seniors on their team this year.

“I think that it gives us a little bit of an advantage. I think more of (our) kids were on the field last year. Overall, I think we have more kids on this team that were playing in that game last year,” he said

Going to the title game for the third time and having that playoff experience should help the Huskies when they hit the field at Penn State University at 2:30 p.m. today.

“When you’ve been there, you’re a little comfortable with these types of games,” McCurdy said. “I didn’t hold any secrets back from these girls. These are high-stress games in some ways. You’re really at a point of the season where you win, you move on. If you lose, the season’s over. I said to them that you can’t take that out of the picture. You have to embrace that and go out and play the way that you’re capable of.”