MIFFLINTOWN - The Mifflin County softball team took a short trip to Mifflintown looking to bounce back from a tough loss last week and turned a competitive game into a blowout as the Huskies scored 10 runs in the last two innings to beat Juniata 16-3.
On easily the hottest day of the year to date, both teams gave this game the look of a rivalry as Brandi Sherwood knocked the first pitch of the game into center for a leadoff single. Sherwood advanced to third on two groundouts and scored on a passed ball to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
After the Indians went down in order in the bottom of the inning, Emily Tomasello and Mikala Britt got consecutive two-out singles, but Indians' pitcher Maddie Zendt kept her composure and got Macie Lucas to ground out to third.
Sentinel photo by BRADLEY KREITZER
Mifflin County’s Brandi Sherwood (2) slides safely into second base as the throw misses Juniata’s Kristen Pray Monday evening in Mifflintown.
In the third Sherwood again got the Huskies on the board as she again singled to center and on the first pitch to Tara Kibe stole second. Juniata catcher Tiffany Shoop made a good throw, but the ball hit off Sherwood's helmet and scooted into center field. Sherwood, unaffected, immediately got up and took off, scoring all the way from second, to make the score 2-0.
In the bottom of the frame, the Juniata offense came alive as Brandi Ranck singled to right then Megan Shoop put a bunt down between home and third and the Huskies couldn't get a throw off.
That brought up Kristen Pray who hit a shot to dead center and took off running; by the time she hit third, she was right behind Shoop. All three scored as Pray hit an inside-the-park three run home run, giving the Indians the lead.
IF YOU GO
* Mifflin County at Central Mountain Friday
* Juniata hosts East Juniata Wednesday
That lead didn't last long, however, as the Huskies came back in the top of the fourth when Allessa Morrison singled to left and reached third as Juniata's Alesha Reed couldn't keep the ball from going by. Tomasello batted next and tripled to right, scoring Morrison - but Tomasello rounded third too hard and was thrown out trying to get back to the bag.
Huskies' pitcher Mikala Britt cooled the Indians down after that, allowing just one hit over the next three innings. Overall Britt went six innings for the Huskies, striking out five and walking just one. Mifflin County coach Jack McCurdy had some encouraging words for her after the game.
"I told Mikala that's by far the best game shes pitched all year," McCurdy said. "What I mean by that is you know when your locked in a zone and today she was in a zone. She did a great job of mixing her pitches and throwing strikes."
Macie Lucas led off the fifth and hit a shot to deep left as she raced around the bases for a home run. Sherwood came up next and worked a walk then stole second again; she scored when Jessica Lamberson singled. Lamberson crossed the plate when Tomasello was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. That gave the Huskies a 6-3 lead, but they weren't done by a long shot.
In the sixth the Huskies sent six runners home on three singles and three errors as Sherwood, Kibe, Jordan Myers, Lamberson, Hunter and Lucas all scored. The Huskies scored four more runs in the seventh to make the final score.
McCurdy was happy that his players finally were able to relax at the plate and enjoy the benefts they got from it.
"Once we got a few runs under out belt the kids really settled in and then they were playing relaxed," he said. "That's the way they hit the ball in practice."
The Indians committed six errors in the game and coach Brian Sheaffer knew it was his team's downfall.
"We blew up in the sixth, we just made too many mistakes and that hurt us," Sheaffer said. "Other than that we played well for the first five innings and it just got away from us."
Sherwood went 4-for-5 with a walk and five runs scored. Julia Stuck and Brooke Wilson had pinch hit RBI singles in the sixth inning for the Huskies.
For the Indians it was a tough loss, but Sheaffer is optimistic that his team will continue to improve.
"We've still got a good shot at reaching all our goals that we set at the beginning of the season," Sheaffer said. "We've just got to keep playing and stay positive as we move forward."
The Huskies improve to 7-3 on the season and will head to Central Mountian on Friday. Juniata drops to 4-8 and will host rival East Juniata on Wednesday.