LEWISTOWN - With a bitter, cold wind blowing across Highland Park, the Red Land (4-4) and Mifflin County (4-1) softball players very nearly had to choose between ice skates or cleats when they opened their equipment bags in preparation for Saturday's Commonwealth Division matchup.
The Huskies scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to snatch a 4-3 victory from the jaws of defeat. It was a well played, highly entertaining game with fans from both teams rewarded for their dedication in the winter-like temperatures.
Shelby Lyter began the game in the circle for Mifflin County and her first pitch was a called strike. Perhaps, a harbinger of good things to come from the pitching staff, as she retired the first three Patriot hitters in order.
Sentinel photo by JAYNEE CAROLUS
Mifflin County’s Jordan Shirey connects on one of her three hits against Red Land pitcher Maggie Hahn Saturday in Lewistown.
In the second half of the inning three Mifflin County batters reached base after a line drive out, but failed to score after a fielder's choice and pop up retired the side.
Red Land's only threat in the second inning was a long fly ball by the Patriots' cleanup hitter, which was run down and caught by center fielder Mara Rhodes.
In the bottom of the inning, the Huskies went quietly, failing to mount any scoring threats.
IF YOU GO
Mifflin County hosts Cedar Cliff today
Red Land then plated the first run of the game when with two outs and a runner on first, Madi Christenson hit an RBI triple on a frozen rope to right center field to make the score 1-0. For Mifflin County, Tara Kibe reached third base in the bottom of the third on a single, passed ball and ground out, but was left on base to end the inning.
Another run was scored by the Patriots in the fourth. With one out, Sydney Boreman was hit by a pitch and awarded first base. After a strikeout, walk and an RBI single courtesy of M. Zehring, the hit batsman scored.
Mifflin County plated two runs in the bottom of the fourth to knot the score at 2-2 after Macie Lucas singled, Kalie Hunter reached on a fielder's choice, Jordan Shirey hit an RBI double and Maggie Wray hit a sacrifice fly RBI.
Lyter recorded four strikeouts in the fifth and sixth innings, which resulted in one stranded baserunner for the Patriots in each frame. The Huskies stranded two in the sixth inning.
Mifflin County coach Jack McCurdy switched pitchers in the seventh.
"I thought it would be good to throw a different pitcher at them to (keep Redland) off balance. Shelby pitched a great game, but with the leadoff hitter due up second, I chose to make the change," he said.
Taylor Boyer entered the circle for the Husky's in the seventh inning.
Alyssa Munns lead off the seventh for Red Land and reached on a throwing error. She moved around the diamond on two ground outs before scoring on an errant throw to third base which left the infield to make the score 3-2 in the Patriots' favor in the top of the seventh.
But the Huskies weren't done yet, and Tara Kibe lead off with a single in the bottom of the seventh to become the potential tying run.
Mara Rhodes then hit into a fielder's choice which erased Kibe from the basepaths. The Patriots then notched a second out on a fly ball.
Things were beginning to look grim for the home team, but the seniors came to the plate to change everything. Jordan Myers, Taylor Boyer and Macie Lucas all singled, scoring Rhodes and Myers for the comeback victory.
When asked how she handled the pressure of two out, two on, Lucas answered: "I acted like no one was on and no one was out. Those thoughts relaxed me and took the pressure off. I am just one part of this team effort, we all work together."
For her efforts in the circle, Lyter said, "I was supported by some timely hitting by my teammates. Our defense kept them off balance." Shelby finished with eight strikeouts, one base on balls and two hit batters and gave up only four hits.
"This game was certainly different than yesterday's game. I was glad to see the girls come back and win a tight game. It was a character builder for sure," McCurdy said.
Mifflin County hosts Cedar Cliff today.