The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

April 15, 2014

Softball: Milton overcomes miscues to beat Shamokin

MILTON — When asked if the Black Panthers were nervous at all about a possible comeback rally by Shamokin in the seventh inning, senior catcher Mackenna Miller nodded ‘no’ before the whole question was even asked.

With the way Milton was making mistakes — committing an uncharacteristic six errors — it wasn’t out of the question for a strong-hitting Shamokin squad to rally back, especially seeing as it put up four runs in the second inning.

Shamokin scored twice in the top of the seventh inning with just one out recorded. But Miller and Co. stayed focused and Shamokin’s next two batters flew out and hit a line drive right at Milton’s second baseman, respectively, to end the threat and — more importantly — give Milton the 11-9 win on Monday afternoon in the Heartland Athletic Conference Division I game at Milton.

“Taylor (Batman) started getting stronger toward the end of the night, but the umpire had a tough strike zone and she couldn’t hit where her spots were, and they were hitting the ball because we were putting it right down the middle,” Miller said. “We weren’t worried though.”

Shamokin (5-2, 4-2 HAC-I) and Milton (6-0, 6-0) went back-and-forth all game.

A sacrifice fly by Helana Supsic brought Jenny Hornberger (2-for-4, two doubles, two RBIs, four runs) in to start the game off and give the Indians a 1-0 lead. Milton responded in the bottom of the first with two runs thanks to a big single into center field by Batman to make it a 2-1 game.

Shamokin used a 4-run second inning to lead by three runs, 5-2, in which the Indians had a string of three straight hits, including two doubles by Kelsey Forbes and Hornberger.

In addition to Hornberger’s nice game offensively, Natalie Wolfe provided a boost midway through the lineup, going 2-for-4 while adding a run.

The Indians would take their final lead of the game in the top of the fourth inning, 6-5, when Hornberger scored after Miller tried to pick off a runner at second base. Milton tied the game in the bottom of the third inning thanks to an RBI-double by Bayli Derr to make it 5-all.

The Black Panthers’ bats finally started clicking for good in the bottom of the fourth when Milton used a five-hit, four-run inning to swing the momentum back and keep Shamokin trailing the remainder of the day.

“It was just a matter of getting them out so we could catch up, then we got an inning or two when we got them out (and) held them to one,” Milton coach Bill Keefer said. “I thought then we were in pretty good shape.”

The Black Panthers nearly batted around the order in the fourth, including having five out of six batters start the inning off with singles.

Milton ended the day with 11 hits, over half of them coming from Miller and Batman, as the battery mates combined for six. Miller was a home run shy of hitting the cycle while also scoring three runs. Batman had three RBIs in the win.

“When she’s patient and swings at strikes, she’s just hitting everything with a laser,” Keefer said of Miller. “She’s hitting everything hard.”

Aside from going three up, three down in the bottom of the second inning, Milton scored at least one run in every other inning.

Shamokin cut Milton’s deficit to 10-7 in the fifth after Brie Bonshock’s single drove in Hornberger. The Indians scored twice in the seventh with only one out, but their rally came up shy.

“We expected them to give us a good game, but we didn’t expect to help them the way we did (with errors),” Keefer said with a laugh. “That’s one thing if they’re scoring their runs hitting, but when (we) keep throwing it away and booting it, that’s not good.”

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