Tortoise and hare

LEWISTOWN – Mifflin County sprinted to the win Wednesday when the Huskies shut out Cedar Cliff, 4-0, for a Commonwealth Division softball win. Of Mifflin County’s four runs, two could be traced back to the Huskies’ speed on the base paths as they moved to 13-3 on the season.

Earlier in the day, the Huskies put up the final runs to complete a 17-0, four-inning win over the Colts that was suspended for rain earlier in the season. In the second game, the Huskies struck early with a run in the first off a Kale Hunter single to right field to bring home Tara Kibe from second, but the runs were otherwise a slow, steady release compared to the deluge from the first game.

In the second inning of the nightcap, Maggie Wray reached on a line drive past shortstop Emma Midgarden for a single. Winning pitcher Shelby Lyter advanced Wray with a sacrifice bunt, then Taylor Dietrich connected for a double to right – the Huskies’ only extra-base hit of the game – to bring Wray home for a 2-0 lead.

In the third and the fifth, Mara Rhodes was the name of the game in scoring, as she outran two throws from shortstop for singles, both of which later resulted in runs. She sped home on a successful bases-loaded suicide squeeze by Wray in the third, and reached on a line drive up the middle by Olivia Riden for the final run of the game in the fifth.

“I think that’s the best game that we’ve played all year. Kids were picking up the signs and executing them, and that’s exactly what you want this time of year,” Mifflin County coach Jack McCurdy said.

Overall the Huskies had nine hits against losing pitcher Tiffany White, and Hunter was one of the biggest contributors with one RBI in her 3-for-3 performance. Yet, if the Huskies were putting the ball in play for themselves, they were also ensuring that was not the case for the Colts, as Lyter struck out 11 and held Cedar Cliff to just two hits, thanks in part to the defense behind her.

The Colts were in scoring position only twice. Riley Keefer led off the game with a triple, but Lyter sat down the next three batters to eliminate the threat. In the third, Keefer again threatened when she collected Lyter’s only free pass of the game then advanced to second on a wild pitch, but there were already two outs and Lyter again came through with the strikeout to end the half inning.

“Early on I think (Lyter) was unhittable,” said McCurdy, whose ace threw eight of her 11 strikeouts in the first three innings.

In the top of the fifth, the defense behind Lyter came through when Rachel Knuth singled up the middle for the Colts’ second and last hit of the game, but was later erased on the base paths by a heads-up play between shortstop Wray and second baseman Olivia Riden.

In the play, Wray dove to her left for a line drive by Sam Meashey. The Husky couldn’t quite snag the ball, but in her effort tipped it to Riden, who was covering second, to get the force out on Knuth.

Later in the inning, Riden also made a nice play to her left to grab a hard-hit grounder, allowing her to make the 4-3 play for the final out of the inning.

“I think the kids are playing with a lot of confidence right now, and they should be. We tell them all along how great they are in practices and so forth, and so we’re really focusing on the mental aspects of the game,” McCurdy explained.

Today the Huskies (13-3, 11-1) host State College, and while the game has importance from both a District 6 and rivaly perspective, McCurdy said the team is simply focusing on bringing its best game.

“I really want the kids just to come out and continue to focus on their game, and the result will be the result,” he explained. “We’re taking them one at a time at this point – inning by inning, out by out.”

Wednesday was senior day for the Huskies. In between the two games, Lauren Bitting, Dietrich, Hunter, Tara Kibe, Lyter and Riden were recognized.