The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

May 27, 2014

High School Softball: Line Mountain makes history in 2014

MANDATA — During Line Mountain’s first playoff game against Galeton, freshman Joelle Snyder drilled an inside-the-park home run and proceeded to scream and hug just about every teammate that was nearby once she crossed home.

That’s precisely the type of pure raw emotion you’d expect to see from a group of kids experiencing districts for the first time. And while getting to districts alone is a nice accomplishment, Line Mountain has done nothing but make school history this year.

First they advanced out of the first round for the first time in at least two decades. Then they made it to the district semifinals for the first time in school history.

“It’s been really, really exciting. I don’t think anybody would have expected we’d be where we are today,” Line Mountain junior second baseman Bre Boyer said. “It feels good knowing that even though we’re the underdogs, we can come together as a team and come together (to win games).”

The Eagles are definitely a bit of an underdog. They had to fight late in the year and battle to get into the District 4 Class A playoffs, and that battling hasn’t stopped.

“Before the game starts, I always say not that we don’t have anything to play for, but nobody expects us to win,” Boyer said. “We go in and we play for ourselves and not what standings say and not what everyone else says about us.”

In fact given the way they’ve been playing through districts, you could probably call them “The Comeback Kids.”

Line Mountain erased a 5-run deficit against Galeton to win its play-in game 8-7 in nine innings, then came back from a 6-0 deficit to top No. 2-seed Cowanesque Valley, 10-7, in the quarterfinals.

“Honestly, I think we played the same as when we were losing by 10 runs or winning by 10,” Boyer said. “We still have the same fire and put runs on the board.”

The Eagles are currently sitting at 12-9 on the year, the most wins by a Line Mountain team since at least the 1990s. Line Mountain had not won more than 10 games in a season since 1993.

“It’s really hard to put into words because they’ve worked their tails off and haven’t ever given up no matter what the score was,” Line Mountain coach Jordan Taraschuk said. “I don’t know if I really can quantify — put into words — what they’ve done.”

And while the team itself has been playing solidly behind players such as Jayci London, Deidre Long and Kiana Lukoskie, two freshmen have been a huge key to Line Mountain’s success.

Snyder has been a monster at the plate this year, recording 35 hits on the season, including three home runs — two of which were inside-the-park hits — and a team-best 18 RBIs. Her speed makes her dangerous on the base paths, and forces defenses to play heads up.

“Joelle is one of those girls offensively, when we know she’s coming up, we know we can depend on her to get us started,” Boyer said. “She’s great on the bases, she’s great at bat and we can count on her for defense. She’s fast and she knows what she has to do and she does it.”

And while Snyder’s been a driving force offensively, freshman Myah King perhaps gets a bit overshadowed.

King twice has come in to relieve Madeline Reed in districts, and twice has completely shut down opposing teams. After Galeton built up a 7-2 lead in Line Mountain’s play-in game, King pitched 6.2 innings of relief, scattering three hits and allowing no runs as the Eagles rallied for an 8-7 win in nine innings. Against Cowanesque Valley, trailing 6-0, King pitched 5.2 in relief and gave up just one run — unearned — while scattering six hits.

“We’ve preached to her being a freshman, take it one at a time and hit your spots and let your defense help you out behind,” Taraschuk said. “She’s really bought into that and really executed the pitch that’s called.”

“She is one of those girls where if you’re on the field and she gets down, you can go over and say, ‘You’re here for a reason, you can do it,’” Boyer added.

The Eagles face No. 3-seed Bloomsburg today at Elm Park at 4 p.m. with a berth into the District 4 Class A final on the line. While Taraschuk admitted he didn’t know much about their next opponent, he simply preached to the Eagles to keep doing what they’ve been doing all year.

“All we told the girls is: doesn’t matter who we face, if we play our game, good things will happen,” Taraschuk said.

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