By Todd Stanford
For The Daily Item
MIFFLINBURG -- A Milton fan summed up Thursday's Heartland Athletic Conference Division I showdown best as he walked away from the Mifflinburg softball field. "That was two heavyweight boxers going at it."
True enough. The two perennial District 4 powerhouses each put their unbeaten records on the line in a battle for first place in the HAC-I. Mifflinburg's Kayla Kline and Sara Stauffer each homered, Kelcie Crabb had three hits, and winning pitcher Ally Lloyd worked her way out of a seventh-inning jam as the Wildcats escaped with a 7-6 victory.
"This was a tough game," Mifflinburg coach Steve Ross said. "When we got in the circle there (at the end of the game), I said, 'Take a breath now. Breathe.'"
In a game between two teams that are used to shutting down the opposition, Thursday's contest turned into an offensive barrage. There were a combined 21 hits and four home runs.
"I was nervous," said Stauffer, whose two-run homer in the fourth gave the Wildcats (6-0, 6-0 HAC-I) the lead for good. "But it's good for us to be in games like this."
Milton (5-1, 5-1) got home runs from Bayli Derr and Bethany Brennan. The Black Panthers added three doubles, but they also left 11 runners on base.
"I figured we would score some runs," Milton coach Bill Keefer said. "We played the way a team should play tonight. I'm proud of that."
Taylor Batman took the loss for the Black Panthers; she was relieved in the sixth by Dani Lincoln.
"Their 3-4-5 hitters had hammered us all day long," Keefer said. "I wanted to show them something different, and get (Lincoln) a little experience at the same time."
Brennan hit a solo shot over the left-center fence to start the seventh, getting Milton within 7-6. Batman later hit a one-out double and Kiah Brink hit a bloop single to right to put runners on the corners. But Lloyd got leadoff hitter Mack Miller to pop out to her, and Lloyd then whiffed Lincoln to end the game.