State College’s Emma Wolfe, with her tired pitching arm heavily wrapped in ice, needed a big hug from coach Jim Schaper, even if she could offer only one good arm.
Moments earlier, the Lady Little Lions had just suffered a heartbreaking 6-5 loss in eight innings to Mifflin County in the District 6 Class 6A championship.
The Lady Huskies came up with a walk-off hit against State College in the title game for the second straight year at Saint Francis University. Mifflin County’s Alyssa Souders was the hero this time around as her dribbler back up the middle against a drawn-in infield scored Jade Morningstar from third with one out.
After he finished consoling Wolfe, Schaper sought out and hugged second baseman Addie Wasikonis, third baseman Brandi Triebold, and Ainsley Shedlock, who finished the season injured.
“Those were my seniors, it was their last game,” Schaper said after the game. “A lot them aren’t going on to college ball, so this was their last hurrah.”
The Lady Little Lions couldn’t catch a break in the eighth and final inning with the score tied at 5-5.
Carsyn Spencer, Sophia Keene and Wasikonis each lined out sharply to the outfield to start the frame before the Lady Huskies scratched out the game-winning run in the bottom of the inning.
Morningstar drew a leadoff walk and advanced from first to third on Cassidy Wilson’s sacrifice bunt, which set up Souders’ game-winning hit two at-bats later. Morningstar wisely took third when she realized State College didn’t have a defender at the bag after a 5-4 putout on the sacrifice bunt.
An excited Souders said after the game that she was looking for a high pitch to drive for a sacrifice fly in her pivotal at-bat, but she gladly settled for the weakly hit ball back up the middle off of Keene.
“Unfortunately, if you look at the last two innings, every out we made was hard hit right at somebody and then you get a bleeder like that that wins the game,” Schaper said. “It was a great game and they’re a good team.”
State College shortstop Morgan Arnold did everything she could to send the game to extra innings. She started a pair of 6-3 double plays to end threats in the fourth and seventh innings.
Arnold also made a full extension diving catch behind third base to prevent a potential game-winning hit and run in the sixth inning.
“Our shortstop is a stud. I think the baseball team is going to recruit her for next year,” Schaper quipped.
State College finishes the season with a 10-10 record while Mifflin County will play in a PIAA subregional game next week against the winner of Thursday’s District 10 championship between McDowell and Erie.
The Lady Little Lions failed to complete a season sweep over the Lady Huskies. State College scored 25 combined runs and beat Mifflin County twice in the regular season, including a 13-3 victory in five innings just 12 days earlier.
Mifflin County coach Jack McCurdy said his pitchers Devanie Condrack and Madison Ream attacked State College’s hitters on the inner half of the plate this time around to allow just five runs.
McCurdy, who is a counselor at State College Area High School, figured he’d have awkward Thursday in school following his team’s district title.
“Some of those girls aren’t real happy with me right now, and I feel bad about that,” McCurdy said. “I never really like playing State College very much.”