Mifflin County wins districts

HYDE — The Mifflin County Major Division Little League softball team plated six runs in the third inning of Friday’s District 5 title game, and held off a late Clearfield-Curwensville rally to win the championship 11-7 at the Bison Sports Complex.

The game was a stark contrast to Thursday’s match-up between the teams, which CF/CV won 3-2 to force Friday’s contest.

“Tonight, the difference was our hitting was just much better,” Mifflin County coach Casey Yoder said. “The girls were more confident at the plate. We had more solid hits that were able to drop in, compared to last night.

“And the errors weren’t as many as (Thursday) night, except for the last inning.”

Instead it was CF/CV that had trouble with miscues.

Mifflin County scored an unearned run in the first inning due to an error and four of the six it plated in the third were unearned — thanks to three more CF/CV errors.

“We came out tired,” Clearfield-Curwensville coach Bob Campolong said. “We played seven games in 10 days. Coming through the loser’s bracket is brutal. They were loose before the game like they were (Thursday), but they came out kind of tired and obviously both pitchers were gassed. Both of these pitchers are very good pitchers and they both got hit tonight. This was a completely different ball game.”

Mifflin County also rapped four hits in the six-run inning, including an RBI double off the bat of Kenna Yoder and a run-producing triple from Alaina Sharp on the way to a confidence-boosting 7-0 advantage.

“The big thing is we had confidence,” Yoder said. “When you have confidence, things go your way. And when you have a big lead, you can try more things and it calms you down.”

Mifflin County added to its lead in the fifth when Katey Riden’s two-out single plated Sharp and Rachel Saldubehere, who each had base hits earlier in the inning.

Meanwhile, Mifflin County pitcher Arika Henry was cruising.

She tossed 4 2/3 innings of no-hit ball before Alaina Fedder got to her for a two-run double with two out in the fifth inning. Lauren Davidson and Eva Bloom, who both drew walks, scored on the play.

Henry had six strikeouts in the first four innings — including the side in the second — and finished the game with 10. Her defense was also solid behind her, making just two errors that led to one unearned run.

“Their defense is spectacular,” Campolong said. “They played very solid defense and we had some mishaps and that played into the game. We had some plays that really hurt, but that’s Little League softball. And hats off to their pitcher for getting through six innings after pitching last night.”

Yoder had high regards for his pitcher.

“I guess she may not be considered one of the top pitchers in the district, but she carried us through and she ended up getting the whole thing,” Yoder said of Henry. “She’s just awesome. Arika Henry is one of the top two pitchers I know in our area.”

After Clearfield tried to claw its way back in the game in the fifth, Mifflin County tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the top of the sixth.

Henry led off with a walk and Yoder followed with a base hit before Alexis O’Brian doubled to plate them both, giving the visitors an 11-2 lead.

Yoder, Hershberger and Sharp each had two hits for Mifflin County, which collected 12 in the game.

Henry looked to make quick work of CF/CV in the bottom of the sixth, notching a pair of strikeouts against the first two batters of the inning.

But Marlee Gasper started a big rally by drawing a walk off Henry and stealing second. Lucy Billotte followed with an RBI single to make it 11-3.

After a Davidson base hit, Natalie Wischuck was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Bloom, who drew a walk to knock in Billotte. Bloom walked three times in the game and scored two runs.

Fedder made it even more interesting when she singled to right-center field to plate Davidson and Wischuck. Bloom got caught in a rundown between second and third on the play, but Mifflin County made a throwing error trying to get her out and she scored to make it 11-7.

“That two-out rally was fun,” Campolong said. “You were just watching the scoreboard clicking and the girls were getting excited.”

But Henry was able to put the fire out with her tenth strikeout of the game to end it.

“She was getting tired and the nerves were setting in as it was for the rest of the girls and a couple mistakes happened,” Yoder said. “But they were able to pull through and get the win.

“I just want to thank God. We couldn’t do this without Him. Clearfield is a tough team and this is a tough district. To get this far was a hard, tough road.”

Mifflin County moves on to the sectional tournament, while Clearfield-Curwensville ends its tournament run with a 3-2 record.