Before the season was even close to starting this past winter, fans in Warrior Run were coming up to coach Garth Watson and telling him that now that Mifflinburg moved out of the HAC-II and up a division to Class AAA, it'd lift the monkey off the backs of the Defenders, so to speak.
All Watson could do was just chuckle a little bit.
Mifflinburg and Warrior Run had their battles last year, going roughly 30 innings with the Defenders outscoring them last year by only a run or so through all their meetings. The Defenders may be a bit happy overall that Mifflinburg's no longer in the HAC-II and Ali Lloyd took her dominance in the circle up to the HAC-I, but that doesn't mean Warrior Run got off easy and will run away with the HAC-II.
Warrior Run is well aware of that and Tuesday afternoon was the perfect example of why Watson just had to laugh a little when fans told him Mifflinburg moving up would take the monkey off their back.
"We lost Mifflinburg and now us and Southern are going to battle," Warrior Run ace Taylor Parker said after Tuesday's 3-2 win over the Tigers.
Southern Columbia jumped out to a 2-0 lead against the defending Class AA state finalists thanks to two deep doubles into left field -- one by Erin Yoder to bring a run home in the second inning and another by ace pitcher Mallory Tomaschik to score another in the fifth.
Gabby Shrawder came up big for the Defenders in the fifth and seventh innings with home runs to almost the same spot both times into left field, the second being a walk-off in a 2-2 game.
The Defenders and Tigers are two very similar teams. Both have dominant pitchers (Warrior Run's Parker, Southern Columbia's Tomaschik), both have stellar defenses that can make plays and they both obviously can hit the ball.