All it took was one inning for the State College softball team to get on a roll.
It didn’t matter if the ball sailed 170 feet or 17, the Lady Little Lions know how to make it work.
“We’ve been playing really well lately,” coach Mike Harper said. “I told the girls, it is about us, it’s not about who we’re playing necessarily. It’s about playing our game. We did the things we’re supposed to do.”
State College (13-8) earned its 11th win in the last 12 games and blanked Altoona 10-0 Monday in a five-inning game in the first round of the District 6 Class AAAA playoffs.
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It sets up a rematch with top-seeded Mifflin County in the semifinals at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The Lady Little Lions and Huskies split their two regular-season Mid Penn Conference games, each winning on the other team’s field.
Alyssa Shedlock led the offense with a 3 for 3 day at the plate, knocking in three runs and scoring twice.
“We’re all feeling pretty good,” Shedlock said. “... I definitely think we’re feeling great and looking forward to districts.”
Cory Marfitt and Brenna Adams each went 2 for 3, with Adams belting an RBI double, as State College pounded out 11 hits, with seven different players picking up at least one.
“It’s really nice to have a team like that,” Altoona coach Aileen DiBona said, “where they have every single substitute that they bring in has those fundamentals and everything. It is something, even though you might have a new pitcher, new batter, just because they’re new, because they’re on State College, does not mean they’re any different than any othe player that we’ve seen.”
The Lady Little Lions definitely had the short game working.
They sent 11 batters to the plate during the second inning. It started with a Marfitt single up the middle before back-to-back bunts intended to sacrifice runners ahead that turned into singles and loaded the bases.
“We’re an athletic team and we’re fast,” Harper said. “We need to be able to take advantage of that.”
Following an out, Shedlock laced a single to left field for two runs, a Jess Henderson ground out plated another, an error brought in another, and after an Adams single Andrea Myers ripped a two-run double to the gap in right-center. One more bunt single from Marfitt finished the scoring.
“In playoffs, those things matter,” Harper said. “We executed our game plan, and the second inning was a good example of what execution will do for you.”
In all, five Lady Little Lion hits didn’t leave the dirt of the infield, with three bunts among them.
“We were struggling with that at the beginning of the season,” Shedlock said. “The past week or so in practice, we’ve just been really drilling getting it down the third base line, first base line, just on the ground.”
Shedlock had an RBI single to highlight a two-run first, and an Adams double down the line in left in the fourth inning capped the scoring.
Henderson, Hannah Shields and Karli Nolan combined on the three-hit shutout, also combining for three strikeouts and no walks. Henderson earned the win and Alexa Young took the loss.
It was the start to the postseason the Lady Little Lions were seeking.
“The energy in the dugout’s always pretty good,” Shedlock said. “Especially when we’re scoring, but even when we’re down. It’s pretty exciting. Scoring runs is always a good feeling.”