---- — By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
WILLIAMSPORT -- As the Lady Millionaires walked into the dugout after getting the last out in the top of the fourth inning Saturday, Williamsport coach Quint Bower looked at his players and told them they needed to start swinging and making contact.
They had been doing that already, but struggled to gain any momentum.
It seemed then Williamsport immediately took its coach's advice.
With two on and one out, a double to left by Kaitlin Caringi started a rally of five consecutive hits in the bottom of the fourth as Williamsport scored six runs. The Millionaires took a 9-6 leadand maintained it over three innings for the win over Mifflinburg in the final of the Williamsport Softball Tournament at Elm Park.
The Wildcats got to the final by defeating Delaware Valley, 8-5. They also won on Friday against Conwell-Egan, 3-2.
"We've been making contact all day, especially on the pitcher (Sara Stauffer), but we just needed to keep our heads and getting level cuts and that's what we did. We were able to get a few runs there," Williamsport pitcher Alexis Bower said.
Mifflinburg (13-3, 9-1 HAC-I) was without star pitcher Alli Lloyd due to Lloyd being ejected in Friday's game. Since it was a tournament, she was ineligible to pitch in Saturday's morning and afternoon games.
After Caringi's double, Bower connected with an infield single to drive in a run before her sister, MiKayla Bower, came through with a huge double to center to drive in two more runs. Williamsport (10-1) batted around the lineup. Samantha Fischer scored thanks to an infield error and also reached safely on a shallow single that dropped into right.
Williamsport entered the fourth inning trailing the Wildcats 6-3. Williamsport rallied in the second to tie the game after trailing 3-0.
After the Lady Millionaires' lead-changing fourth inning, Williamsport brought in ace pitcher Bower to relieve Taylor Brooks and shut down the Wildcats, which is exactly what the all-state pitcher did.
"I just go in with the mind set like I need to go in and do my job (and) I need to help out Taylor. I'm a relief (pitcher), that's my job," Bower said. "I went in with the mind set you have to go in and throw hard and throw strikes, and that's what I did."
Once Bower entered the game, the Wildcats' bats went completely silent. Bower struck out 11 of the 12 batters she faced, with Stauffer popping out to short for the game's final out.
Mifflinburg went from having seven hits in the first three innings to being no-hit over the final four.
"I know that was going to happen (with Bower coming in), but our pitching was just a little weak," Mifflinburg coach Steve Ross said.
Stauffer and Chelsea Mitchell (who followed Stauffer midway through the fourth), combined to allow 11 hits while striking out six (three apiece).
The Wildcats wasted no time and jumped out to an early lead as McKenzie Noll hit a single to right field in just the team's second at-bat before Stauffer was walked two batters later. That allowed Mackenzie Kyler to come through with a huge triple into deep left-center to drive in two runs. In the third inning, the Wildcats strung together three straight singles before Margaret Wiand hit a double into left to drive in two more. Molly Davis had an RBI-single in the inning as well to put Mifflinburg ahead by three, 6-3.
Wiand was the only Wildcat to record two extra base hits, as she also hit a triple in the second inning to set up a run when Kayla Kline reached on an error to put Mifflinburg ahead 3-0.
"They don't look at adversity, they just look at it as, We have to play 7 innings, let's play them all!' That's the way they've all looked at it and that's what they've been doing," Ross said. "I'm not going to make excuses. (Bower) is probably the best pitcher in our area and she's dominant and we just didn't hit her."
Williamsport tied it up in the second thanks to a four-hit inning when Kalia Moore hit a 2-RBI triple into right, followed immediately by an RBI-single into shallow left by Caringi.