By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
WILLIAMSPORT -- It was your typical hard shot into left field that the outfielder catches up to, scoops into her glove and gets away with just giving up a single.
So when Milton's Taylor Batman drilled a ball to left, it looked like precisely that. Unfortunately, the Shamokin left fielder didn't read the ball quite right, and it took an unfortunately bounce past her glove.The error proved more than costly, allowing three Milton runs to cross the plate to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth inning as the Black Panthers rallied for an 8-5 win in the District 4 Class AAA semifinals on Thursday at Elm Park.
Milton returns to the District 4 Class AAA final for the eighth consecutive year and will meet Jersey Shore today for the crown at 2 p.m.
"It seems like we always have one bad inning, but that wasn't the only thing that happened," Shamokin coach Christi Cryder said. "We had errors that cost us runs other than that. They'll get it. I'm excited for next year. We only have one senior and I'll take that senior any time, but I'm very proud of the girls. They fought and fought."
Milton (14-7) batted around the lineup in that six-run fifth inning, including a string of five straight batters reaching. Batman's deep single came with just one out. The Black Panthers also accounted for five hits in the inning, the same amount they had the first four combined.
The Indians (11-11) jumped out to an early lead against Milton, the district's No. 2 seed.
Courtney McGrath came through for Shamokin with a deep triple down the left field line to bring in two Indian runs. Shamokin then held a lead until the top of the fifth inning when it added on two more runs thanks to an Olivia Bonshock single to build a 4-1 lead over Milton.
The Indians looked like they were going to rally in the top of the sixth inning after freshman pitcher Dani Lincoln relieved starter Taylor Batman.
The freshman struck out one and had another pop out, but not before a run scored on a wild pitch. Lincoln then walked the bases loaded, but the Black Panthers got out of the bases-loaded jam when Bonshock popped out to short.
"I figured when she got out of inning, there wouldn't be any problems in the seventh because she'd be relaxed and come out and throw strikes," Milton coach Bill Keefer said. "She could just throw strikes and hit her spots. I figured she'd be fine."
Lincoln gave up just a single into left before a final ground out ended the inning.
The Black Panthers cut the deficit to 2-1 in the bottom of the second inning. Bethany Brennan (two singles) had a base hit into left field before Mack Miller grounded out to drive in a run with one out.
Milton added another run in the sixth inning to go ahead by three when Brennan hit another single into left. The play resulted in a fielding error that allowed Linea Brouse (two singles) to cross the plate.
"I am very proud of them. They accomplished what they set out to accomplish: get to districts (and) win a game, but that's a tough loss there and they're taking it to heart," Cryder said. "(We) should've won the game, but came down to little things, but I'm proud of them. They fought."
Jersey Shore's win over Mifflinburg in extra innings sets up a Jersey Shore/Milton district final today at Elm Park.
"I told these kids 'look, we want to win the thing, yeah, without a doubt and if we play our best we can, but this is eight years in a row we've been in the final,'" Keefer said. "There's a lot of schools that never make a final. I said 'you guys have worked all year, this is your reward. Come (today), relax and play the game.'"