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June 3, 2014

High School Softball: Mifflinburg falls to Berwick in state playoffs

BLOOMSBURG — Berwick coach Brian Bridge went out to the circle in the second inning after Mifflinburg batted through the lineup and decided it was time to make a pitching change. He handed the ball to Ashton Mensinger, Berwick’s right fielder, and presumably told her to get them out of the inning.

Mensinger struck out the only batter she faced in the second as the two squads were tied at 10-all. For Berwick, that pitching change made a huge difference.

After the Wildcats collected 11 hits off starter Moriah Lynn in just 1.2 innings, Mensinger seemed to shut down their hot bats, as she scattered five hits the final five innings, giving up just two in the final four.

After an impressive hitting performance to start the game, which featured two nice rallies by the Wildcats, Mifflinburg failed to mount another.

Berwick defeated Mifflinburg in an 18-12 contest at Bloomsburg University’s Jan Hutchinson Field on Monday in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs.

Berwick advances to play Lansdale Catholic on Thursday at a time and place to be determined.

After Berwick took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, Mifflinburg (17-6) immediately responded by scoring three runs in the bottom to take a 3-2 lead — the Wildcats’ only lead of the evening — thanks to back-to-back RBI hits by seniors Sara Stauffer (3-for-4) and Mackenzie Kyler (2-for-3).

The Bulldogs scored eight in the second to lead 10-3 until Mifflinburg rallied to tie it at 10. Stauffer had an RBI-single to bring senior McKenzie Noll home before Molly Davis (2-for-4, 4 RBIs) had a huge 2-RBI double into left two batters later. Morgan Kyler would reach on an RBI-triple before Kylie Kuhns had an RBI-single into right to tie the game.

“Usually you can relax when you get six runs up. After that inning, I wasn’t relaxed the whole game,” Bridge said. “There’s not a lot of coaching you can do when they’re hitting the ball that well. You just have to stick with it and make sure we didn’t get our heads down.”

After two good pitching performances through districts, sophomore Hannah Boop got into some trouble early with Berwick. The Wildcat — who entered the day with an 11-1 record and an ERA under 2.00 — gave up 10 runs, seven earned. She walked seven batters through 1.2 innings and also walked in three consecutive runs in the second inning.

“They knew that we were going to throw inside on them and (we) kept doing it (and) kept doing it and it wasn’t working,” Mifflinburg coach Steve Ross said. “She got flustered out there and that’s all there was.”

Despite not throwing for nearly three weeks, Chelsea Mitchell came on in relief and — after giving up seven hits in the third — held Berwick’s offense the final four innings.

“Chelsea came in and threw and did what she needed to do, and that’s all we wanted,” Ross said. “Our bats didn’t come alive there and score the runs that we needed.”

With two outs in the third, Berwick put together a string of four straight hits, including back-to-back-doubles to help increase its lead to 17-12.

Despite the run differential, Mifflinburg matched Berwick with 16 hits on the day as six of Mifflinburg’s players had multiple hits.

“I told them out there I was proud of every one of them. I said, ‘You girls probably accomplished more than what you actually thought you would at the beginning  of the year.’ I said I was very proud of them,” Ross said.

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