The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Todd Stanford

June 2, 2011

Todd Stanford On high school softball: A rivalry to remember

Trust me when I say this: It only seems like Milton and Jersey Shore meet for the District 4 Class AAA championship more often than the latest Harry Potter sequel hits the local multiplex.

I did look it up, and it's not even close. There have been eight Harry Potter movies — counting next month's release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" — and only four Shore/Milton gold-medal battles.

Well, better make that five, counting today's District 4 final at Elm Park (first pitch at 4). As usual, the winner advances to the state tournament, which begins next week, while the loser sees its season end.

The Black Panthers won three straight championship meetings between the two between 2006 and 2008, each time by one run. Jersey Shore finally broke through last season, beating Milton 2-0.

Today's battle will no doubt add to the legacy of the rivalry, as new heroes will rise to the fore. But while we have the opportunity, let's take a look back at their previous title tilts.

2010

The Bulldogs' Brooke Koch threw a two-hitter and Hannah Yost — who will be playing again today — brought in two runs with a sixth-inning single to give Jersey Shore a 2-0 victory.

Koch also fanned 14 batters and only allowed one runner to third base.

The Black Panthers' Kristi Weaver — who will take the circle again today — pitched well, at one point setting down 13 batters in a row.

Jersey Shore went on to play for the state championship, falling to Bellefonte.

2008

Milton edged Jersey Shore for the third straight year, this time coming out on top 2-1.

After falling behind 1-0 in the third, the Black Panthers tied it in the fifth on a pair of wild pitches. Melissa Balliet later provided the winning run in the bottom of the seventh when Nicole Smith singled her home.

Milton advanced to the state championship game, where it lost to Susquehannock.

2007

The Black Panthers needed eight innings to get their second straight championship.

With the score 0-0 in the bottom of the eighth, Jennalee Williams brought Kelley Pfleegor home with a single to right.

That game ended the careers of a talented Jersey Shore class. Those seniors in 2007 had won two Susquehanna Valley League championships and were three-time district runners-up.

The Black Panthers went on to lose to Abington Heights in the first round of the state playoffs.

2006

Freshman hurler Nicole Smith fanned 10 batters and walked none as Milton won its first District 4 championship since 2001, holding off the Bulldogs 3-2.

Oceanna DeBaro broke a 2-2 tie in the third with an RBI single. The Black Panthers' other two runs were unearned.

That win started an amazing run for Milton's freshman class. They would go on to win three league championships and three more district crowns; they went 89-8 in their four years, including a 6-4 mark in the state playoffs.

— Sports reporter Todd Stanford covers high school softball for The Daily Item. E-mail comments to tstanford@dailyitem.com.

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