Chambersburg finished with seven hits in an 11-4 win over Mifflin County in the PIAA Class AAAA softball quarterfinals. Video by Lizi Arbogast
From the very first at-bat, it was clear Chambersburg was going to do whatever it had to do to win.
And that's the way it worked out, with the Trojans handing Mifflin County an 11-4 defeat in a PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal softball game Thursday afternoon at Carlisle.
After retiring the Huskies in order to start the game, the Trojans immediately got their offense going. Caeley Etter led off the bottom of the first by hitting a ball hard and high. Although it looked like an easy out, Etter motored to first base. Good thing she did, because the Huskies' second baseman dropped the ball.
Maggie Myers followed Etter with an infield single, and Leah Hunt kept things going by drawing a walk to load the bases. Chambersburg continued to capitalize on Mifflin County's mistakes, drawing a bases-loaded walk and having a batter nailed by a pitch with the bags full.
By the inning's end, the Trojans led 4-0, and they never looked back, securing a spot in the state semifinals.
Chambersburg (24-4) will take on Hempfield Area (23-2), the champion of District 7 and an 8-0 winner over McDowell, on Monday at a site and time to be determined.
"It was different for us; we usually don't score in the first inning," Chambersburg coach Chris Skultety said. "I think we're allergic to scoring in the first inning, but today, we took advantage of two errors, put the bat on the ball, made them make the plays, a couple walks, and there you go, we're up 4-0."
The Trojans' strong start clearly rattled the Huskies (18-6), whose two pitchers combined for nine walks and two hit batters. They walked in four runs.
"I think part of it was just the way this game started," Mifflin County coach Jack McCurdy said. "It's very uncharacteristic of our team, and right away, it puts you on the defensive. (Hannah Ruby) didn't have her normal catcher back there today (due to injury), so that might've played into it somewhat. It changes the dynamic of the team."
The pitching trio of Laken Myers, Sam Bender and Leah Hunt did not have that problem for Chambersburg. Combined, the three allowed just seven hits and one walk, and struck out seven.
Myers started the game and threw 2 1/3 innings before Bender finally got back in the circle and shut the door, allowing Etter to return to her true position behind the plate.
"(Skultety) told us from the beginning that there was a possibility that she would be going in," Etter said. "Having Sam come in was awesome, because as soon as she came in, she shut them down, and Laken did a great job as well. I was so glad to be back (at catcher), and I'm glad Coach had the faith to put me back in there."
The Trojan trio was backed up by a nearly error-free defense, which included a few fine efforts from second baseman Maggie Myers, who had to have her hand taped up twice during the game.
"I was just going for everything," Myers said. "I see some of these balls, and I just think, 'I'm getting it,' and I go after it. We don't play as individuals, and we have to back up our pitchers. If they get down, then everybody else does."
Chambersburg broke open in the game in the fifth inning, scoring six runs, helped by a bases-clearing double by Hunt.
Having such a large lead allowed the Trojans to play all 20 girls on the roster.
"Everyone got state playoff experience today, and these young kids will cherish that," Skultety said.