The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


June 1, 2014

H.S. softball: 'Underdog' Wildcats set for the state playoffs

BLOOMSBURG — According to junior catcher Molly Davis, Mifflinburg’s been an underdog this year.

That may be hard for some to believe, considering the Wildcats are currently sitting at 17-5 on the season. But to Davis, it boils down those who doubted the Wildcats.

Some doubted Mifflinburg would be as solid this year given they lost standout Heartland Athletic Conference all-stars Kelcie Crabb behind the plate and Alli Lloyd in the circle. And of course some doubted the Wildcats would be a District 4 contender at year’s end.

The Wildcats proved them all wrong by defeating Shamokin on Thursday to claim the school’s first District 4 championship since 2007.

“It’s the most amazing feeling ever. This is what we worked all season for,” Davis said. “A lot of people doubted us, no one even thought we’d get as far as we did, and just doing something everyone didn’t think you were capable of doing is the most amazing feeling.”

Mifflinburg plays its first state playoff game since 2009 today against District 2 champion Berwick at Bloomsburg University at 5:30 p.m.

While the Wildcats admitted they didn’t know much about the Bulldogs, Mifflinburg enters today’s game with a potent lineup that seemingly can hit at will from the leadoff hitter down through the No. 9 batter, although Mifflinburg isn’t taking anything lightly.

“We don’t want to be too over-confident or cocky, but we just want to play our hardest and play as a team,” senior Mackenzie Kyler said.

The Bulldogs claimed the school’s first District 2 championship since 1995 by blanking Tunkhannock on Wednesday, 5-0. It’s the third shutout in four district games for pitcher Moriah Lynn after Berwick went all year without posting a single shutout.

While it’s no secret the Wildcats can hit the ball — they have the most hits of any Valley team this year — Mifflinburg has gotten off to a sluggish pace at times. But they seem to be clicking at the right time.

“Some games we’ll be slow starting offense (or) slow on defense, but these two (district) games, we’ve been good all the way until the end,” Davis said. “We’ve gotten so much better throughout the season. ... (We’re) consistently getting better.”

That offense is led by sophomore Kayla Kline and seniors McKenzie Noll and Kyler, who as a trio have combined for almost 100 hits this season. Both Kline and Noll have over 30 a piece, while Kyler has 28 hits. Kline also has six home runs while Davis and Noll each have 29 RBIs.

While offensively they’re solid, defensively Mifflinburg’s just as good.

Kline is easily one of the district’s best shortstops while Kyler has been superb at third base, especially throughout districts, in which she single-handedly assisted on 10 putouts in the semifinals.

“They don’t wait on (a ball), they get it. That’s something we worked on as well. On that side of the infield, they’re outstanding. They’re in sync with each other,” Davis said of Kline and Kyler.

One player who may get lost in the shuffle is Hannah Boop, a sophomore pitcher who had the tough task of replacing Lloyd in the circle. However, given that task, Boop’s excelled this year, currently sitting at 11-1 on the year with a 1.62 ERA and 53 strikeouts.

The Wildcat pitcher helped hold off Jersey Shore and Shamokin in back-to-back games, preventing a huge Shamokin rally in the seventh in the championship.

“Obviously she’s really confident because those are two very prestigious wins under her belt. But, she’s still in that mentality of, ‘Yes, I beat two tough teams, but who knows what’s going to come at me next,’” said Davis, who caught Boop all year. “She stays within the means of herself. She doesn’t try to overdo things. (She) hits her spots and that’s how she’s been so successful. She plays a really smart game.”

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