COAL TOWNSHIP — Shamokin erupted for nine runs within the first two innings en route to an 11-0 Heartland Athletic Conference-Division I softball win in five innings over Mifflinburg.
“The first time we played Mifflinburg, it was a battle and we won 6-4. So, we knew we couldn’t take them lightly,” Shamokin coach Jared Petrovich said. “We came out aggressively, and we looked good today. I’m very happy with the way we played.”
Annie Hornberger was the star of the show on Tuesday afternoon, tossing a one-hit shutout in which she struck out eight batters for the Indians (9-3) while also crushing a three-run home run that opened the floodgates in the bottom of the first.
“I thought my home run got everybody pumped up,” Hornberger said. “Everyone else started hitting too, and it just started a rally for us.”
Hornberger pitched through three hitless frames before Kira Hackenberg led off the fourth with a single up the middle for Mifflinburg (5-11). Hornberger also consistently painted the outside corner of the strike zone with curveballs to frequently fool the Wildcats, as she struck out five of the first seven batters she faced.
“My curveball was phenomenal today,” Hornberger said. “I kept locating it on that outside corner, and they kept going after it. Usually, we have one bad inning each game, but (Tuesday), we were on the ball. We attacked the ball well and made the plays we had to make.”
Petrovich added: “Annie definitely hit her spots today, so it was more soft-contact balls, which is great for our defense. That’s how we make clean plays.”
Gabby Parks, Shamokin’s clean-up hitter, saw Hornberger’s three-run blast in the first and raised her a grand slam in the second. Parks jumped on the first strike she saw in the at-bat and sent it just barely over the top of the left-field fence.
In addition to Hornberger and Parks, Kennedy Petrovich thrived in her role as the Indians’ leadoff hitter, going 3-for-3 at the dish and scoring all three times. Cassidy Grimes also added two hits, including a triple and a two-run single.
“We’re trying to teach our hitters to attack first-pitch strikes,” coach Petrovich said. “We know pitchers want to make those pitches, and we’re trying to entice our hitters to go after those pitches with runners on base. We definitely were successful in doing that today.”
While the Wildcats struggled throughout the contest to get on base, doing so just three times, they still worked deep counts at the plate, down to nine-hole hitter Tawnya Shrawder seeing nine pitches before finally striking out for the final out of the game.
“It gives them confidence, but they still have to win those at-bats,” Mifflinburg coach Ron Hernandez said. “You can run the count up and wear the pitcher out all you want, but it still doesn’t help you unless you get on base. They’ve battled all year with their bats. Even when they don’t get on, they still have good at-bats, we can’t take that away from them. Things just don’t fall their way for them in certain situations.”
Mifflinburg’s defense was also flawless, as Shamokin’s hitters just happened to find holes to dunk down base hits.
“Our girls played good defense,” Hernandez said. “They battled, and I can’t take that away from them. We’re building. We’re trying to get better. We have some good games and then we have games like this where everything just falls apart. The defense was good, but it’s kind of been this way all season. It’s always either the defense, the offense or the pitching. It’s never all three. When you can only get one to fire on all cylinders, it’s tough to win games.”
Shamokin 11, Mifflinburg 0 (5 inn.)
Mifflinburg;000;00 — 0-1-0
Shamokin;450;2x — 11-9-1
Chelsea Miller and Evelyn Osborne. Annie Hornberger and Kate Glosek.
WP: Hornberger; LP: Miller.
Shamokin: Kennedy Petrovich 3-for-3, 3 runs; Cassidy Grimes 2-for-3, triple, run, 2 RBIs; Gabby Parks 1-for-2, home run (2nd, bases loaded), 2 runs, 4 RBIs; Annie Hornberger 1-for-3, home run (1st, two one), 2 runs, 3 RBIs.