The Mid Penn Colonial Division does not have a clear favorite in softball this spring.
Instead, there four or five good teams that have a chance of winning the highly-contested crown. So expect a battle in most of the division games, and don't expect some team to run through the division without suffering some losses along the way.
Shippensburg finally opened its season Tuesday and lost to Waynesboro. The fact that the Hounds were able to come back the very next day and knock off Greencastle-Antrim, 7-3, was a signal of topsy-turvy things to come.
"We needed that - we did not want to start out the season 0-2 in the division," Ship coach Mike Peters said.
Blue Devil coach Mark DeCarli said, "We have a lot of experience, but we're not putting it together yet. The girls can't just show up and beat the teams. In this division, everybody beats everybody. At least we get to see them again."
Greencastle (2-2, 1-1 MPC) piled up 14 hits against Ship pitcher Emily Wenner. But it left 13 runners on base, including 10 in scoring position. Wenner kept getting the crucial outs and she got plenty of help from her defense.
"We were able to get that third out when we needed it," said Wenner, who plays for DeCarli on the PA Wild travel team. "My team had my back in the field."
The Devils scored twice in the top of the first thanks to a couple of errors, but left the bases loaded.
The game turned around quickly in the bottom of the first when Maddie Miller came to plate to face G-A ace Ally Brown with two outs and the bases loaded.
"I went up there and was a little shaky and nervous," Miller said, "because with the bases loaded I had to get a hit. I've batted against her for four years now and I haven't done well against her at all.
"I was hoping to hit the first pitch and she threw me one chest high, which is perfect for me."
Miller did not miss, depositing the ball just over the fence in left field, and the grand slam gave her team a 4-2 lead.
Peters, who was yelling at the ball, "Get out of here!" from his perch in the third base coaching box, said, "That was great for Maddie, who has been hitting the ball better. We've been telling her to look for the first pitch more often."
Shippensburg (1-1, 1-1 MPC) added a run in the second on Wenner's RBI double, an unearned run in the fourth and put up run No. 7 when Courtney Coy blasted a pitch over the fence in center field in the fifth.
Wenner hung in there on the mound. Ship turned a double play in the fifth to derail a threat. In the sixth, a G-A runner was gunned down at the plate, with Miller throwing to catcher Morgan Fetter for the inning-ending out. In the seventh, Amber Orndorff made a fine catch at the fence in left with two runners on.
DeCarli said, "That's the best contact we've made in the last three games. But they made some good plays, and we didn't. We have to get this stuff right in practice, and for that, I'll take responsibility."