Central Mountain catcher Lauren Russell pulled into third base wearing a wide smile.
Russell’s three-run triple, ripped into the left-center field gap, sent State College outfielders Lexi Mattivi and Alyssa Shedlock on another long chase and expanded the Wildcats’ lead to 10 in the top of the seventh inning.
Central Mountain kept the Lady Little Lions outfield busy Monday, pounding out 17 hits en route to a 13-7 win. Russell, Moriah Lindsey and Mariah Major each had three hits to lead the Wildcats, who had four extra base hits.
“We’re familiar with our fence now at home, and the big open park was a little bit different for us,” Central Mountain coach David Peters said. “We’re not always used to running around the bases as much as we did, but in that scenario, we hit the ball, we were able to hit the gaps a couple times and burn the outfielders a few times and we’ll certainly take the extra base hits we can get.”
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State College starting pitcher Karli Nolan allowed nine runs on 14 hits in six innings. Reliever Keira Scharf allowed four runs on three hits. The Lady Little Lions (9-5) couldn’t match Central Mountain’s relentless attack and managed just three runs on four hits in the first six innings off Wildcats starting pitcher Rachael Shady. Their four-run seventh inning was too little too late.
Shedlock went 3 for 3 with two RBIs to pace State College.
“They’re a very aggressive team,” State College coach Mike Harper said. “They’re a very good hitting team. They’ve scored a lot of runs this year and so it didn’t really surprise us with what they did. I wish we had put the bat on the ball more early in the innings when we had kids on base. They played well. They played like we thought they would.”
State College held Senior Day in addition to having a Blue-Out to honor Joe Mattivi, Lexi’s father, who died in December from colon cancer.
The Lady Little Lions and their fans wore blue T-shirts featuring the words “Love, Hope, Cure” in a ribbon and remembered Joe with a moment of silence before the game. The event, which was organized by Lexi, raised money to be donated to the V Foundation for Cancer Research.
“This was her senior project, and they raised $5,000 plus whatever they raised today,” Harper said. “She’s a really good kid and her dad was a really good guy, and this event was a really nice way to commemorate him and to raise some money for cancer research. She is a terrific kid and she’s been a good leader for us this year.”
Central Mountain came ready to play from the start.
The Wildcats (12-3) scored three runs in the first inning. They added a run in the second on an RBI double by Jessica Strouse and pushed their lead to 5-1 in the top of the third on an RBI triple by Shady. Through three innings at the plate, Central Mountain recorded seven hits.
“I thought the girls came motivated,” Peters said. “We knew they would be fired up. They had a big day and a really well-planned Blue-Out today. We respect what they were doing. We knew they would be pumped up for things, and we wanted to match their energy.”
State College cut Central Mountain’s lead to 5-3 on a two-run single by Shedlock in the bottom of the third.
But the Lady Little Lions had one hit and went scoreless in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings while Central Mountain extended its lead.
The Wildcats struck for two runs on four hits in the fifth and added two runs in the sixth before erupting for four runs in the seventh, highlighted by Russell’s bases-clearing triple.
Harper said Nolan left some pitches up in the zone, a mistake that proved costly against an explosive offensive lineup. And the Lady Little Lions couldn’t keep pace as they failed to take advantage of their opportunities at the plate.
“I think that if we had driven in some kids earlier, who knows what would have happened later in the game?” Harper said. “But they played pretty well. Sometimes you just get beat.”