LEWISTOWN - Players like Mifflin County's Brandi Sherwood don't come around too often. But when they, they certainly make themselves stand out on the diamond.
Whether it's on the base paths, in the batter's box or at the shortstop position, Sherwood is the catalyst for the Huskies.
Her four-hit performance Wednesday against Penns Valley lifted Mifflin County to a grind-it-out, 4-2 win over the Rams. Mifflin County pounded out 11 hits in the win and committed only one error defensively.
Sentinel photo by BRADLEY KREITZER
Mifflin County catcher Allessa Morrison, right, gets ready to try for a double play after tagging Penns Valley’s Maggie Lynch for a out at the plate Wednesday.
Although Sherwood's four hits were all singles, the Husky did just as much damage on the bases. She created havoc for the Rams with every pitch.
"She's just aggressive on the base paths," Mifflin County coach Jack McCurdy said. "You bobble a ball and she's got the next base. She's very aware of her speed."
Her speed and the ability to read the ball out of the pitcher's arm gives Sherwood an edge and that was the case all game against the Rams.
Leading the way along with Sherwood, Mikala Britt picked up the win in the circle and Rachel Zimmerman closed the door for the Huskies over the final three innings. But it was the work Britt did right out of the gate that was the story of her afternoon.
Britt gave up back-to-back-to-back singles to start off the game. With the bases loaded and no outs, Madison Sharer hit into a fielder's choice and brought home the game's first run. Then Britt settled down to get a strikeout and a pop out to end the threat.
McCurdy said getting out of an inning like that is huge because when the opposing team scores runs quickly they get relaxed and are able to hit.
"You don't want to give up a big first inning like that," he said. "What happens then is that team can relax. I think when kids relax they hit well."
The Huskies pounded out 11 hits and got started quickly. After leaving runners on second and third in the first inning, Emily Tomasello led off the second with a triple to the the gap in left. Allessa Morrison's bloop single drove home Tomasello and the Huskies were on the board.
But their scoring was not finished for the inning. Tara Kibe roped a two-out double and was driven in by Sherwood's second hit in as many innings and just like that the Huskies had a 2-1 lead.
"We had some kids that hit the ball well today," McCurdy said. "Brandi was awesome today. She's really starting to come into her own."
Britt settled down in the second after giving up a leadoff single. But in the third, it was a one-out inside-the-park home run off the bat of Ashley Struble to knot the game at two.
Mifflin County came roaring back in the third to reclaim the lead. A Jordan Meyers infield single was followed by singles from Jess Lamberson and Tomasello to load the bases full of Huskies. Brooke Wilson drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly to right field.
Sherwood's work on the basepaths got the Huskies a very important insurance run in the fourth. Her third single of the game put her on first. She stole second and then baited the Rams into a throw to third on a Macie Lucas ground out. The ball bounced off Sherwood's helmet far enough to allow the speedster to score easily.
That was all of the scoring on the day for each team.
In came Zimmerman for the Huskies in the fifth. Over the final three innings, she allowed only a pair of hits. But in the seventh, things got a little scary for the Huskies.
"Rachel certainly throws with a little more speed," McCurdy said. "Her off-speed stuff keeps people off balance."
Zimmerman got the first two batters to go down swinging before a single and a walk put the go-ahead run to the plate with Struble digging in. Struble hit a shot to Kale Hunter, who mishandled the ball at third.
But Penns Valley's Clarissa Keller rounded third too far and Hunter fired the ball to Sherwood for the final out.
"There again, their offense is starting to gain a little bit of momentum and if Brandi is not there they have the bases loaded," McCurdy said.
Mifflin County (9-3) travels to Bellefonte Friday.