The last time State College and Mifflin County met on the softball field on May 7, the Huskies’ bats had trouble against Lady Little Lion senior starter Jess Henderson in a 4-3 State College victory.
Henderson struck out the side in the first inning Wednesday, but Mifflin County got to her in the third for three runs and added three more in the sixth to defeat the Lady Little Lions 6-1 in the semifinals of the District 6 Class AAAA playoffs at Highland Park Elementary School in Lewistown.
“They took some good cuts on some missed pitches,” State College coach Mike Harper said. “They’re a good hitting team and we knew that coming in. They attacked the ball in the zone, like they should. That’s what good teams do.”
Henderson’s perfect first inning came after Mifflin County starter Hannah Ruby induced three fly outs in the top half of the first.
Both pitchers got into a bit of second-inning trouble, but each found their way out unscathed.
Hannah Shields singled to start the second and was sacrificed to second, but after a strikeout and a ground ball, the Huskies were heading in to hit.
Caitlyn Smith and Maggie Wray put together consecutive singles with one out in the bottom half of the inning. Henderson got a weak pop up to third and a nice play from shortstop Corey Marfitt on a line drive to end the inning and keep it 0-0 after two innings.
Ruby blanked the Little Lions in the top of the third with two strikeouts before the Mifflin County bats could get things off and running in the bottom half of the inning.
Taylor McKay drew a leadoff walk to start the inning and Morrison pushed a bunt single to the right side to put two on with no outs. A fly out to center moved Smith to third and Mara Rhodes laid down a perfect suicide squeeze to score Smith and make it 1-0. Ruby helped herself with a two-run single to center to make it 3-0 in favor of the Huskies.
With one out in the top of the fourth, controversy struck on a ground ball to Smith which she threw across to first. Mifflin County first baseman Darcy Wilson briefly stepped off the base to retrieve the throw, but got back to the bag before the runner. Shields was briefly called safe, but the umpires got together and reversed the call for the second out of the inning.
“I think he said that her foot wasn’t on the base,” Mifflin County coach Jack McCurdy said. “While I was sitting (in the dugout), I was like, ‘It looked like she put her foot back on the base before their player got to the base.’ I just went out and asked him if he could ask for some help on that. He said sure. I think they got it right.”
A ground out later and Ruby was out of the inning.
“We know Ruby’s a really good pitcher,” Harper said. “We’ve been looking at her tendencies, but they mixed it up very well on us today. No matter hard you prepare against a really good pitcher, sometimes the really good pitcher just gets you. Good pitching usually beats good hitter and she had a really good game today.”
Neither State College nor Mifflin County could push any runs around in the fifth.
The Little Lions finally scratched one across on Ruby in the top of the sixth. Kayla Hawbaker singled with one out in the inning and Henderson scored her with a single to left to cut the Huskies lead to 3-1.
Mifflin County added three runs in the sixth and Ruby sat down the Little Lions in the seventh to end the game and State College season.
The Little Lions finish the season 13-9.