The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 25, 2014

High school softball: Southern Columbia scores in bunches

Daily Item

---- — By Anthony Mitchell

The Daily Item

CATAWISSA -- As she grabbed the ball to start the third inning, Abbey Herr took a quick glance at the sky before fixing her gaze on the task at hand.

With the way she was starting to settle in, Herr could afford to take a moment for herself.

Herr held Shikellamy's bats at bay before Southern Columbia's offense erupted to beat the Braves, 10-0 in five innings in a Heartland Athletic Conference cross-over game Friday.

The Tigers sophomore hurler had thrown a no-hitter Thursday in a win over Hughesville. While Kelsey Zimmerman quickly ended a bid for a second no-no by ripping the second pitch of the game into right field, Herr quickly found her groove in the circle.

When the Braves (1-6) did put the ball in play, it was routinely scooped up by Southern's defense or by Herr herself for a quick out.

"It's great to have a solid defense behind me," Herr said. "They really do have my back in all situations so I really do rely on them for a lot of things."

Using all areas of the strike zone effectively, Herr was able to rely on the strikeout to escape threatening situations. When Herr was no longer forcing swings on high pitches, she went down to the knees to miss bats and worked both edges of the plate.

Rarely starting consecutive at-bats with the same look, Herr kept the Braves guessing. She finished with seven strikeouts and made Zimmerman's leadoff knock stand as the Braves' lone hit in the game.

Zimmerman moved to third on a throwing error with one out before Herr got the second out with a strikeout. After a walk by Brianna Yarger and a bit of savvy base-running put runners on second and third with two outs, Herr induced a groundout to escape the jam.

Herr set the Braves down in order in the second before the Tigers' offense came through.

Haley Levan reached on an error with two outs and McKenna Lupold followed with an RBI single to give the Tigers (9-2) a 1-0 lead.

"Once the bats got going, once we got on (Shikellamy), we know we've got some kids that can hit the ball," Southern Columbia coach Al Cihocki.

While the Braves went back to the dugout down a run, Shikellamy was not as fortunate in the third when the Tigers' bats came alive. Southern extended its lead to six runs before an out was recorded in the inning, highlighted by Herr crushing a ground-rule double to center and catcher Blair Johnston following with a two-run single. The Tigers plated seven runs in the inning.

"With the run support, I know my team can hit and I know we can score runs very effectively so I just do my part on the mound and I can let them take care of it in the box," Herr said.

Levan led off the fifth by lacing the ball down the line and sprinting for a triple. Lupold came to the plate looking for her third hit of the game, and sent a pitch over the fence in center for a two-run home run to end the game via the 10-run rule. Lupold finished with three RBIs.

Herr sent the last five hitters she faced back to the dugout without the ball leaving the infield.