PHOTO: Mid Valley’s Maranda Runco threw a one-hitter and hit two home runs in her state tournament debut.
Maranda Runco tossed a one-hitter and hit home runs in her only two official at-bats.
The Mid Valley sophomore, however, may have done even more damage with the fear she struck into the Lancers coaching staff.
Runco hit her 18th and 19th home runs of the season, but the Spartanettes biggest inning came when Loyalsock Township refused to give her a chance at one.
Mid Valley responded to a bases-loaded, intentional walk by producing seven runs in the second inning of the 12-0, five-inning victory in a Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class 4A first-round game at Central Columbia.
The Spartanettes hit a total of five home runs with Madison Kizer, Courtney Rebar and Kaylee Terranella adding one each.
Runco opened the game with a home run. When she came to bat with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the second, Loyalsock Township intentionally walked her, giving away a run, rather than risk one Runco swing producing four.
Mid Valley wound up getting seven runs with the help of Kizer’s three-run, two-out blast for an 8-0 lead.
Runco is growing accustomed to the intentional walk, but receiving one with the bases loaded was a new experience.
“I was expecting to hit,” Runco said in a telephone interview. “ … I didn’t think they would walk me.
“I was surprised at that, but my teammates came up and got the job done and we just went on from there.”
Chiara Zavislak also drew a bases-loaded walk to drive in a run, Emma Kobylanski doubled in a run with two out and another scored on an error before Kizer hit her home run.
Runco got a chance to swing the bat in the fourth after two of her teammates had already homered in the four-run inning that put the Spartanettes in position to win the game early on the 10-run rule.
Kizer started the inning with a double and Terranella hit a two-run homer. Rebar hit a solo shot with one out.
Runco came up with two outs. With how few pitches she is seeing lately, Runco has expanded her strike zone.
“I always look for a good pitch,” she said. “Even if it’s a little out of the strike zone, up or down, I still go after it.
“I’m seeing the ball well. Being a pitcher, it’s easier to see the spins on the ball as it comes in. I can see whether the ball is going up or down and make an adjustment. I’m trying to swing at everything close because I don’t get many at-bats.”
Runco was aware of the hot, humid conditions while pitching, but she was sharp in the circle as well.
A leadoff single by Summer McNulty in the first inning was the last hit by Loyalsock Township. The Lancers had only two more base runners, on a third-inning walk and a fifth-inning error.
“I was pitching real hard and I felt good,” she said. “I was hitting my spots and doing what my coach told me to do.”
Runco’s pitching had plenty of offensive support and not just from her own bat.
The Spartanettes added two doubles to the five homers. They had 11 hits total with all but one starter producing one and the other drawing two of the five walks.
Kizer and Runco each had two hits and three RBI while Terranella had two hits and two RBI. Runco scored three runs while Kizer and Rebar scored two.
Mid Valley, the Lackawanna League Division 3 and District 2 Class 3A champion, is 20-2 going into Thursday’s 1 p.m. game against District 11 runner-up North Schuylkill, which is 20-6 after scoring 13 runs in the first inning and blasting Philadelphia Academy Charter, 19-0, in three innings Monday.