NEPA Sports Nation

Runco powers Spartanettes

By Tom Robinson,

THROOP – Maranda Runco overpowered Warrior Run from the pitching circle and the batter’s box.

Runco struck out 14 in a three-hitter and hit two of Mid Valley’s three home runs as the Spartanettes celebrated hosting a state tournament game on their home field by handling Warrior Run, 7-1, in the June 5 Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class 3A softball opening round.

The Villanova University commit threw strikes and stunned the Defenders with her ability to launch a pitch that was well out of the strike zone.

Runco’s power-hitting reputation has led opponents to frequently avoid pitching to her. Instead of just motioning for the umpire to send her to first base intentionally, Warrior Run attempted to “pitch around” Runco.

Warrior Run tried to do that with a runner on base and Mid Valley already in front, 5-1, in the bottom of the fifth.

Runco, a lefty hitter, went the other way with a low pitch that was well off the outside part of the plate. She reached out and sent the ball out of the park in left field.

“Sometimes, you’ve got to tip your cap,” first-year Warrior Run coach Mark Evans said. “Power in the circle. Power in the batter’s box.

“That second home run was outside and just about an inch off the ground. Tough hitter.”

For others, even swinging at such a pitch would be a mistake that the defense would try to encourage. With so few chances to swing at strikes, Runco has built her power numbers on the ability to handle such deliveries.

“I was very surprised myself,” Runco said. “When I was rounding third, I was thinking, ‘wow, that was not a very good pitch to swing at’.

“But, I got enough on it to let it go. That happened to me before. One time when they were trying to walk me, I just got one pitch and I hit it out.”

The Defenders, the District 4 runners-up, got Runco out once, but never did stop her from producing runs with her fly balls. Her three plate appearances were a big part of the Spartanettes scoring in four of their first five at-bats.

Runco drove in four runs, including helping Mid Valley take a 2-0 lead just three batters into the bottom of the first.

Kat Davis led off with a double and scored on Chiara Zavislak’s single.

Errors put Zavislak on third and Runco brought her in with a sacrifice fly.

Runco needed one pitch to add to the lead in the bottom of the third. She sent a ball over the fence in left-center and Madison Kizer followed by landing another homer a few feet away for a 5-0 lead.

The Spartanettes had already scored again in the second inning when Davis used her second hit, a single, to drive in the team’s third run of the game.

Zavislak started the fifth inning with her second hit and scored her second run on Runco’s second homer of the day.

Madison Litchard had two of the three Warrior Run hits and also put the ball in play that resulted in an unearned run in the fifth.

Runco started the game by striking out five of the first seven batters before Litchard singled through the right side. In each of the first five innings, she struck out two, including the last batter.

Mid Valley, which has won the last four District 2 titles, used the win to advance to the state quarterfinals.

Warrior Run, which reached its district final as the sixth seed, finished 12-12 with a 21-player roster that included 11 freshmen and only 3 seniors.


District 2 Class 3A softball final and semifinal roundup: ROUNDUP: Spartanettes claim fourth straight 3A district title – NEPA Sports Nation.

Riverside-Mid Valley semifinal photo gallery: Riverside at Mid Valley Softball Photo Gallery – NEPA Sports Nation.

District 2 Class 3A quarterfinal roundup: ROUNDUP: Pfeiffer, Kostoff lead Lady Vikes into Class 3A semifinals – NEPA Sports Nation.

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