WILLIAMSPORT - If Mifflin County is going to go deep into the Pennsylvania 15-year-old Babe Ruth state tournament, it will have to depend on an established pitching staff and an offense that can score runs.
Pitching might be by committee, but the hitting will come from some players who have been on the tournament trail for the past three years.
Mifflin County opens up state competition on Thursday at 5 p.m. against Brandywine, the District 6 champion. This will mark the first time that a Mifflin County team has played Brandywine and it will mark the 113th different league or state that Mifflin County has played against. Eighty eight of those are Pennsylvania leagues.
Other pool games for Mifflin County will be on Saturday at 4 p.m. when Mifflin County plays the host team, West End of Williamsport; Sunday, Mifflin County plays Wayne County (District 5) at 10 a.m. Mifflin County closes out pool play on Monday against Bensalem (District 3) at 1 p.m.
Other teams in the tournament are District 8 runner-up Altoona, Media from District 1, District 4's Valley West (Hazleton area) and Tri-County (Pottstown, District 2).
On Tuesday and Wednesday the quarterfinals and semifinals will be played; the state finals will be on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
All games will be played at Logue Field.
In the District 7 tournament, Mifflin County rolled over Gettysburg, 10-0 and 20-2. Both games were stopped after five innings due to the 10-run rule.
Mifflin County had 21 hits in those two games and five of those were for extra bases.
All three of Hunter Shuff's hits went for extra bases as he had two doubles and a triple. Drew Hannon and Lucas McKay had the other two extra-base hits, both doubles.
One thing that has been a constant for the past three years is the hot hitting of Carter Spade. Spade scored four times and had four hits and drove in five runs in the two games in the tournament.
Max Remy was right behind Spade as he also scored four runs, had four hits and had three RBIs. Hannon also drove in three runs during districts.
Mifflin County used four pitchers with Shuff and Dakotah Schlegel each getting wins. Shuff got the first victory with four innings of work, striking out seven, walking one and giving up one hit. Blaise Roush closed out the first win.
Schlegel also went four innings in the second game, striking out five, walking two, giving up one run three hits. McKay finished the game with three strike outs and gave up the other run.
"I feel that we have a very expereinced team," Bernie Howard, the Mifflin County manager, said. "We have a very explosive team on offense and are strong defensively. Pitching has been a concern, but since the districts were over our coaching staff has been very pleased with the progress of our pitchers.
"We know that we have to play West End and Bensalem, two of the top teams in the tournament, but if you want to win a state title you have play and beat them all," Howard said.
Howard has an overall record of 358-87 and an all-star record of 70-21. This will be his second trip into Williamsport as an all-star manager. In 2003, the first year that Howard won a state title (15-year-olds), part of the state tournament was played at Logue Field.