LEWISTOWN - Mifflin County got a huge hit from Brooke Wilson in the bottom of the eighth inning Thursday that plated the game winner over undefeated Mid-Penn Commonwealth leader Cumberland Valley, a game the Huskies won 5-4.
Wilson stood in with one out and two runners aboard with an opportunity to seal the deal for the Huskies. The right handed stick was 0-for-3 in her previous at bats that spanned nearly 24 hours due to inclement weather Wednesday that suspended the game until Thursday afternoon.
Judging by her first three at bats, Wilson did not appear to be the likely candidate to hit a walk off, but Mifflin County coach Jack McCurdy was confident in her abilities and opted to let her swing it.
Sentinel photo by BUFFIE BOYER
Mifflin County’s Brooke Wilson, right, is congratulated by teammate Mara Rhodes (20) after Wilson hit a home run to win the Huskies’ Commonwealth Division softball game against Cumberland Valley Thursday. See more photos online at cu.lewistownsentinel.com
"It looked like she had been having a little trouble with the speed," McCurdy said. "I thought, she's been in there all day and I know she's capable of doing that."
Wilson came through. Big time. After swinging and missing at a fastball up and away, she stepped back in and drove a middle-in fastball over the left fielder's head for the walk-off.
McCurdy noted that he had thoughts of pinch-hitting for Wilson but chose not to based on the Wilson's ability to bounce back. Following a mini conference up the third base line, McCurdy knew he made a good choice to leave her in.
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* Mifflin County travels to Central Dauphin East today
"I pulled her down and asked, 'You got this?' and she said, 'Yes,'" McCurdy said with a laugh. "I just felt like you give the kid a chance after she saw the pitcher three times - she delivered."
Prior to the edge of your seat action, the Huskies held a 3-0 lead - a holdover from the first day's action - until the fifth inning, when Cumberland Valley scrapped for two runs. Starting pitcher Rachel Zimmerman walked the first hitter of the inning then responded well by striking out the next two. As seen many times before, leadoff walks tend to score in softball and that's exactly what happened.
Cumberland Valley's Taylor Krow took a 2-1 fastball and crushed it to right-center field past Wilson. The two-out blast was a round tripper as the speedy Krow wasted no time getting from base to base and inching her team to within one run. A Kayla Sullenbeger single would have given Cumberland Valley runners at first and third but a superb throw by center fielder Mara Rhodes cut down the runner at third on a bang-bang play for the final out of the inning.
Not to be outdone, Mifflin County responded in the home half of the fifth. Rhodes drew a one-out walk and quickly moved up to third following two passed balls. After a flyout to right, Jordan Myers knocked a two-out single that brought in Rhodes, making the score 4-2.
In need of a shutdown inning in the top of the sixth, Zimmerman took the circle once again. The right hander endured a leadoff bunt single by Rachel Mumma and retired the next three batters in order.
The seventh inning would be a different story.
After collecting two quick outs, Zimmerman surrendered three straight hits - one of which was a dagger. Zimmerman's counterpart Kayla Sullenberger hit a line drive back through the box that plated two runs, knotting the game at 4. Zimmerman's day was done and McCurdy brought in Shelby Lyter. The next hitter smashed a linedrive off Lyter to left that would have given the Eagles the lead but Tara Kibe was there to make the snow-cone grab and end the threat.
McCurdy considered making a pitching change prior to the inning but said he elected not to because Cumberland Valley was at the bottom of its lineup.
"I didn't really see that the bottom of their lineup had been effective all day," he said. "I thought we'll give (Zimmerman) the opportunity to get out of this."
Cumberland Valley's three hits and two runs all came with two outs.
Zimmerman tossed an impressive eight strikeouts while walking just two on her 125 pitches during her two-day outing. She kept the powerful Cumberland Valley offense at bay, allowing nine hits and only four runs. Zimmerman got a no-decision for her efforts.
Myers, Lucas and Boyer all had two hits on the monumental win over the Eagles. Mifflin County (7-2, 7-2) is back in action at Central Dauphin East today.