Twice as nice

Mifflin County wins fifth district crown; second in a row in walk-off fashion

Sentinel photo by MATT STRICKER
Mifflin County’s Gianna Hoppel, left, tags out State College's Morgan Arnold at second when Arnold attempted to stretch a single into a double during the District 6 Class 6A softball championship game Wednesday.

LORETTO — It was deja vu all over again for the Mifflin County softball team in the District 6 Class 6A finals at Red Flash Field in Loretto on Wednesday.

For the second consecutive year the Huskies had a walk-off hit for the victory.

­Sophomore catcher Alyssa Souders lined a single up the middle scoring Jade Morningstar in a 6-5 Mifflin County win over State College in eight innings.

“I was really nervous. Bubby (Craig Bubb) told me I needed something high I could pop up but that’s not what happened,” Souders said. “I was excited. That’s all I can say. The pitch was a little high and I was looking for the sacrifice fly but it went through for the hit. I think we’re ready. I think we can do something good the rest of the way.”

The winning run wouldn’t have happened without the heads-up base running by Morningstar. The Husky sophomore walked to start the bottom of the eighth. Cassidy Wilson laid down a sacrifice bunt and an alert Morningstar saw third base uncovered and hustled over just beating the throw. Gianna Hoppel walked and Souders, who also had a triple, came up with the crucial hit.

“I saw the open base and knew it was the perfect opportunity. I had to get there. I knew I could be the winning run. I’m usually not the fastest on the team, but I said I’m going to go for it,” Morningstar said. “It was an interesting experience. It’s a little nerve-racking but a lot of fun. I think we have a good chance of winning and moving on to states.”

“We needed to get something through the infield. They were pulled in tight which give you a little more angles. She did a great job running the count deep and managed to hit one up the middle,” Mifflin County coach Jack McCurdy said. “Oh my, that was big time by Jade. She recognized no one was covering the base and she just hustled over there. It was all her. She’s knowledgeable and she has some speed. It feels good. It’s also good we don’t have to make the trip to Erie this year. Most likely Erie McDowell will come to us.”

Mifflin County advances to a state sub-regional play-in game against the Erie McDowell-Erie High District 10 winner. Those two play for the D10 title today; the play-in game will be played at a District 6 site on May 30.

The Huskies (10-8) took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first when Josie Kibe walked and Carolus Award winner Olivia Ahern lifted a 2-2 pitch over the left-field fence for a two-run homer.

“The umpire was consistently calling strikes on the outside, so I knew I had to watch for that. I saw the pitch and I took it the other way,” Ahern said. “It was so exciting. I’m so proud of Alyssa and my team. I’m so glad we came together to pull off the win. We got all the nerves out, so it’s all good.”

Mifflin County made it 3-1 with a run in the second when Souders tripled, scoring Hoppel, who reached on a single. Devanie Condrack started for the Huskies and held the Little Lions in check for four innings until giving up two runs in the fourth and fifth innings.

“Devanie, early on, really had her pitches working. Some of them kind of went away and we had to rely on the two or three pitches she had left. Give State College credit. They recognized that and they were able to predict what was coming,” McCurdy game. “We changed up our approach by attacking their hitters by going inside.”

Never-say-die State College tied it at 3-3 in the fourth when Morgan Arnold brought home Emma Wolfe and Addie Wiskonis with a two-run single to left. The Little Lions took the lead in fifth when Arnold brought home Ashley Thomas on an infield fly that wasn’t caught by the Huskies. Thomas later scored on an error.

“We played a good game. Unfortunately, if you look at the last two innings, every out we got was hard hit but right at them. Then they get a bleeder that wins the game,” State College coach James Schaper said. “It was a good game. They are a good team. We battled neck-and-neck with them.

“We lost the same way last year and it hurts, but we never quit. I believe we can beat anybody. The ball just didn’t bounce our way today.”

Mifflin County evened things up at 5-5 with a two spot in the bottom of the sixth. Chloe Fitzgerald and Morningstar led off with consecutive base hits. Both runners advanced on a State College error. Fitzgerald scored on a Cassidy Wilson grounder to short and Morningstar came home on an error.

Maddie Ream picked up the victory in relief with two shutout innings. Sophia Keane took the loss for the Little Lions. Souders and Schnell led the Huskies with two hits each. Waskonis had two hits while Arnold had three RBIs to pace State College.

Mifflin County 6, State College 5 (8 inn.)

State College 100 022 00 — 5-7-2

Mifflin County 210 002 01 — 6-10-1

WP: Maddie Ream. LP: Sophia Keane. SO: Emma Wolfe 2, Keane (SC); Devanie Condrack 4 (MC). BB: Wolfe 2, Keene 3 (SC); Condrack 5 (MC). HR: Olivia Ahern (MC). 3B: Alyssa Souders (MC). 2B: Addie Wasikonis (SC); Alyssa Schnell, Josie Kibe (MC). MH: Wasikonis 2-4 (SC); Schnell 2-4, Souders 2-4 (MC). RBI: Morgan Arnold 3, Brandi Triebold (SC); Souders 2, Ahern 2, Cassidy Wilson (MC).