After getting off to a fast start at the beginning of the season, the State College softball team had fallen on hard times.
The Little Lions began the season with four straight wins en route to showing wins in six of the first seven starts. However, since that time, the Lady Little Lions had dropped four in a row.
Looking for a tourniquet, they found just that when Chambersburg came calling Thursday afternoon for a Mid Penn clash.
Taking advantage of the opportunities that were given to them, the Little Lions doubled up on the Trojans for a 4-2 win at sun-drenched Community Field.
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“We didn’t play exceptionally well last night (in a loss to Cumberland Valley) and I was worried about a hangover effect today,” said State High coach Mike Harper. “Fortunately for us, we didn’t have that hangover. Instead we came out and played very well.”
Doing the duties in the circle for the Little Lions was junior righthander Karli Nolan. For the game, Nolan scattered six Chambersburg hits, striking out three and walking just one.
“Karli pitched a great game,” said Harper. “She really hit her spots today, but the big key was that she worked ahead. When we are able to work ahead it allows us to do more with the batters. I think she did a really good job of getting ahead and that allowed us (the coaches) to call some different pitches.”
In addition to Nolan working ahead of the Trojan hitters, she also kept them off balance by changing speeds on her pitches.
“That is her game,” said Harper of Nolan. “Her game is the finesse stuff. She works hard, she hits her spots when we call them and she does mix it up. When you can change speeds like she does it makes it a lot tougher on the batter. What she did today is similar to what we faced when we played Cumberland Valley and it is tough to hit a kid who throws like that.”
Things didn’t look good for the Little Lions during the first three innings as they were held scoreless, largely due to the efforts of Trojan pitcher LaKen Myers. While that was happening, Chambersburg was able to take advantage of numerous State College errors while putting together a couple of hits for two runs and it could have been worse as State College committed four errors in the first four innings.
“We should have had a lot more runs in those early innings but we just aren’t hitting,” said Chambersburg coach Ted Bittinger. “I honestly don’t know how to correct it at this point. We tried a couple of different things, but they didn’t work. It comes down to where the players have to focus on it (hitting) themselves and be able to come out and hit the ball.”
Trailing 2-0, the Little Lions finally got things going in the fourth and fifth when they scored two runs in each inning for a 4-2 lead that stood up for the final.
“Momentum is a heckuva good thing when it is working in your favor,” Harper said. “We stopped offering at the ‘up’ pitches and once we did that, we became much more disciplined at the plate. That forced her (Myers) to come down to us and we were able to put the bat on the ball which is something we didn’t do earlier in the game. When you put the bat on the ball, good things can happen.”
In the State College fourth, Brenna Adams singled to left, Lexi Mattivi walked and Corey Marfitt moved Adams and Mattivi up one notch with a sacrifice bunt.
Ellie Frey was safe on a Trojan error, allowing the first two State High runs to cross the plate.
“In defense of the freshman pitcher (Myers), she has been doing a real good job,” Bittinger said. “We had the error at first base early in the game (fourth inning) when they got their first two runs so we should still have been up 2-0. We are doing things that we just have work through and right now, we aren’t able to do that.”
After tying the game with a pair of runs in the fourth, it was State’s turn to capitalize on more of its opponents mistakes for the third and fourth runs in the fifth.
Alyssa Shedlock led off with an infield single and was sacrificed to second by Megan Robert. Sharaya Simco and Laura Harris were both “plunked” by offerings from Myers to “juice” the sacks.
Although the sequence that followed wasn’t pretty, it was effective as Myers uncorked wild pitches allowing Shedlock and courtesy runner Liz Drawl to scamper home with the final two runs.
“She (Myers) is a good pitcher,” praised Harper. “What happened there was totally uncharacteristic of how she pitches. For her to make those (wild) pitches was simply a case of it being an off day for her. She is much better than that, but we were glad that she was a little off today.”