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Lady Lions’ season ends

LEWISTOWN — In sports, we’ve heard about the importance of getting out to a fast start.

Well, Mifflin County took that phrase to a whole new level in its District 6 Class 6A semifinal game against Altoona on Thursday at Mifflin County High School.

The Huskies (9-9) scorched the Mountain Lions for a 16-0 victory with all of their runs coming in the first inning.

Dakota Hershberger belted a grand slam over the left-field fence and Riley Hine went 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles for Mifflin County.

“I just hit it. It was there. I waited on it and took it,” Hershberger said about her second grand slam and ninth homer of the season.

Walks also played a critical role for the Huskies as they generated 10 free passes in the contest.

“The girls went out there and were disciplined at the plate. They played hard and that’s all you can ask for. Fortunately, we came out with a W and that’s what we’re looking for,” Huskies coach Craig Weston said.

The Huskies recorded five RBI walks in the opening frame and Payton McClure was hit by a pitch, which allowed another run to score. Mifflin County went through its batting order twice in the first inning.

“We preach to them all year that they have to be disciplined hitters,” Weston said.

In the circle, Madison Wolfgang tossed three scoreless innings and struck out the side in the second frame.

In three meetings against Altoona this season, the Huskies went 3-0 and outscored the Mountain Lions, 35-2.

An important objective for Altoona (0-21) is finding confidence and maintaining it during a long season.

“The biggest thing is what has been our issue the whole season, which is battling not believing in ourselves. I don’t think the girls are used to being pushed. But, they need to realize that failing at something doesn’t make you a failure. It’s the little steps even if it’s getting base hits or getting the bat on the ball when we’re facing good pitchers,” Altoona coach Jess Stiffler said. “The Mid-Penn is a really strong conference to be in even though we’re a big school we don’t really have the numbers in softball, because it’s not really that big in Altoona. But, it’s growing and it’s going to get better.”

A highlight for the Lions came when left-handed reliever Abby Smearman kept the Huskies off the scoreboard by getting a flyout with the bases loaded to end the second inning.

Siffler added that it’s not about the numbers right now. In the short-term, the Mountain Lions have to focus on developing a strong atmosphere in order to produce a winning program.

“I’m so proud of them, because it’s hard to keep wanting to come out here and grind. We’ve lost a few players, but that’s the culture I plan to change. If you make a commitment, you have to stick by it. We’ve had a lot of JV athletes play positions they don’t normally play. They stepped in, because we had people kind of drop off the map,” Stiffler said.

Mifflin County will play State College for the District 6 championship on Wednesday at Saint Francis University in Loretto at 2:30 p.m.

Even though the Huskies are a .500 team, they’ve grown as the season has progressed.

“I think we cleaned up a lot of the little things and that has brought us together. We have smarter decision making like hitting the cut-off, baserunning and pitch selection,” Hershberger said.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Altoona 0 00 XXX X — 0 0 3

Mifflin County (16)0X XXX X — 16 9 0

HR–Hershberger (MC). Multiple hits–Hine 2 (MC). RBI–Hershberger 4, Wolfgang 2, Henry 2, PMcClure 2, McCurdy, Yoder, Hine (MC). WP–Wolfgang. LP–Zimmerer. SO–Wolfgang 3 (MC). BB–Zimmerer 4, Delozier 4, Smearman 2 (A).

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