PHOTO: Lindsey Jason rounds third and heads for home after her game-tying, sixth-inning home run as she receives congratulations from Mid Valley coach Mike Piercy and a North Schuylkill player. (Zachary Allen Photo)
By Tom Robinson, NEPASportsNation.com
DUNMORE – North Schuylkill’s late rally left Mid Valley in need of a later one.
Lindsey Jason and Kaylee Terranella delivered.
Jason’s game-tying, two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth led to Terranella’s game-winning double with none out in the seventh Thursday when Mid Valley turned back North Schuylkill, 7-6, in a Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state Class 3A softball quarterfinal at Marywood University.
North Schuylkill had tied the game in the top of the fifth and moved ahead in the sixth, putting the pressure on the Mid Valley offense.
Jason launched a shot over the left-field fence and Terranella sent her drive to the fence at nearly the same spot.
Madison Kizer came all the way around from first with the winning run.
“I know for a fact that she is scoring there,” Terranella said. “I know that she’s fast and I know that she’s smart on the bases and I know that our coaches know just what to do, especially in that type of situation.”
After a first-round game in which the team showed off its power with five home runs in a five-inning blowout, Mid Valley displayed its speed.
Kizer also had a stolen bases and the Spartanettes took key bases on wild pitches.
Kat Davis, who scored twice and drove in a run, may have been the best example, leading off the bottom of the fifth and temporarily putting Mid Valley back in front, 4-3.
Davis lined a hit over shortstop so hard that it got through to the gap. She kept running, easily getting a double and continuing on to third when the North Schuylkill outfield did not pick up the ball quickly enough.
The extra bases helped with Davis scoring on a wild pitch on the next delivery, getting an important run in an inning that did not include another hit.
Mid Valley combined the speed with alternate power sources.
Winning pitcher Maranda Runco has built such a reputation with home runs in her last 3 official playoff at-bats and 19 total on the season, that she seldom gets to swing the bat at this point in the playoffs.
North Schuylkill walked her all four times Thursday, pitching to her carefully to lead off the first, then intentionally walking her the remaining three plate appearances.
“It’s really hard, especially when our best hitter, Maranda Runco, isn’t hitting,” Terranella said, ”so everyone has to put their own power in and give it their all.”
Jason was up to the challenge in the sixth inning.
With one out and none on, North Schuylkill chose to again walk Runco and voluntarily bring the tying run to the plate rather than pitch to Runco and merely allow her the chance to cut into the deficit.
Another out later, Jason tied the game.
“I was just very calm when I was at bat,” Jason said. “I knew I had to be calm to get stuff down. I didn’t want to stress myself out and I knew it was definitely going to be a big moment in the game.”
Jason, who had a busy day defensively as the team’s shortstop, had also scored on a wild pitch in the first inning.
“We do defense all the time, hitting all the time and it just all comes together,” Jason said. “We play our game and it works.”
It has worked to the point of making the No. 1 Small School team in the Riverfront Sports Super Six Power Rankings of District 2 teams both the Lackawanna League Division 3 and District 2 Class 3A champions.
Now, the Spartanettes are into Monday’s state semifinal, a return trip to Marywood for a 2 p.m. game against Central Columbia, the District 4 runner-up. Mid Valley, which has already beaten District 4 champion Loyalsock Township in the state tournament, is in the semifinals for the fifth time in school history, but looking to get through the round and into the state final for the first time.
“Coach (Mike) Piercy told us our first day back this year, ‘you guys better be ready for states’,” Jason said. “He had confidence in us, so that brought us confidence and now we’re here.”
They got to the semifinals with the help of four doubles.
Terranella’s RBI double was her second of the game, along with one with two out in the third for a 3-1 lead. Davis and Courtney Rebar had the other doubles.
The Spartanettes did enough hitting behind Runco that Abbie Larson, Runco’s courtesy runner, came around to score twice.
On a day when North Schuylkill produced five unearned runs, Runco had seven strikeouts, including fanning batters to end four of the last five innings.
“They had all the momentum,” Piercy said.
Jason stopped it with her two-run homer.
“She’s a senior,” Piercy said as Jason prepared to head off to graduation ceremonies. “I tell her all the time, I want you at the plate.
“At literally the biggest point in our season, she made the biggest play possible.”
Terranella took it from there, with a little help from Kizer’s speed.
“We’re versatile,” Piercy said. “We can attack in many different ways. This field’s a little bigger, so I wasn’t expecting huge power numbers.
“We hit some gaps today; we ran well; we stole some bases. We kind of took a different approach against a really good North Schuylkill team.
“I’m really proud of these girls.”
Photo Gallery: Pictures from the Mid Valley-North Schuylkill quarterfinal game. https://nepasportsnation.com/mid-valley-north-schuylkill-softball-photo-gallery/.