THORNDALE — Taylor Stewart hit an RBI double and pitched a three-hit shutout to help Mifflinburg advance to the Little League Major Division softball state final with a 2-0 win over St. Marys on Friday.
“It feels really good,” Stewart said. “This probably was the hardest game we’ve had all year ... but we just did us.”
Mifflinburg will play at 1 p.m. Sunday against the team that comes out of the elimination bracket for a chance to clinch the state title. Whatever team advances to face Mifflinburg would need to beat it twice in a row — at 1 and 4 p.m. — Sunday to wrest the crown away from Mifflinburg.
Against St. Marys, Mifflinburg made it 3-for-3 in scoring runs in the first inning at the state tournament as Stewart rocketed a double into right-center field that scored Amelia Fluman. Fluman reached base the prior at-bat on an infield hit back through the middle that deflected off the pitcher, allowing Fluman to beat the throw.
Stewart allowed an infield single to St. Marys’ leadoff batter, but shut down the St. Marys offense after that, with some backup from her defense
Stewart said knowing her teammates have her back goes a long way in terms of her confidence in the circle, especially in a close game.
In the third inning, catcher Chloe Showalter fired a laser to catch a St. Marys runner stealing, who singled to left field with two outs in the inning. After the inning-ending out, Showalter and Stewart both let out a scream of excitement.
That momentum seemed to carry over to the top of the fourth inning when Mifflinburg added its second run of the game. First baseman Aubrey Fluman doubled to score Lainey Miller, who was aboard after an infield single.
St Marys started the bottom of the fifth inning with a bloop single that scooted past the fielder allowing the runner to advance. After a flyout, a passed ball allowed the runner to move to third base with one out.
That prompted a squeeze bunt attempt from St. Mary’s that Showalter fielded cleanly, and caught the runner at third halfway down the baseline. After a few throws back and forth, the runner was tagged out sliding back into third base.
Stewart seemed to find a boost after that play as she struck out the next batter to cap off the inning. After a quick top half of the sixth from Mifflinburg, Stewart returned the circle and completed her shutout in style with a 1-2-3 inning.
Mifflinburg manager Heath Stewart said he gave Taylor Stewart a little advice before the game. He said he told her to “step on the gas a little bit more.”
Heath Stewart said reaching the state final — especially by beating the team that eliminated Mifflinburg from the 8-10 Division state tournament two years ago — was an “amazing” feeling, and that the ceiling for his team was “endless.”