MIFFLINBURG — Libby Whittaker and Jaden Keister entered Mifflinburg’s home game against Central Mountain on Thursday in a little bit of a hitting slump.
After Mifflinburg rolled to a six-inning, 14-3 Heartland Athletic Conference Division I victory over Central Mountain it’s fair to say both Whittaker’s and Keister’s slumps are over.
Whittaker hit a pair of two-run home runs, and Keister hit a grand slam homer in the sixth inning to send Mifflinburg to a walk-off win at Mifflinburg Area High School.
The big win was a welcome relief after Mifflinburg (8-2, 5-1 HAC-I) had a bad day in Wednesday’s 7-2 loss at Jersey Shore.
“The girls played really well, and they did good. It was a good, solid game all the way around,” said Mifflinburg coach Ron Hernandez. “I think the girls knew what they had to do (following Wednesday’s loss) when they came out onto the field (Thursday).”
The game went back-and-forth early, but thanks to Whittaker’s second two-run blast in the third inning Mifflinburg took a 4-3 lead, and the hosts stayed in front the remainder of the game.
“I went 0-for-? in the last game, so it feels pretty good to come out and hit (two home runs),” said Whittaker, who now has four homers on the season after also hitting a two-run homer in the first inning. “I think we’re all just kind of feeding off each other now. It only takes one hit to spark something.”
Mifflinburg began piling it on in the fifth when the team brought three more runs home to take a 7-3 lead.
And although Whittaker was intentionally walked, after Delaney Good and Brook Karchner led off with a single and a double, respectively, Vanessa Martin made Central Mountain (4-5, 3-3) pay with a two-run single hit right up the middle of the infield. Following Martin’s hit, Kira Hackenberg hit an RBI double for the hosts.
“Whittaker and Martin are both great hitters, and if you sidestep one you got to deal with the other one,” said Hernandez. “I’m not saying it always works in our favor, but you got to deal with a good hitter behind Whittaker if you’re going to walk her.”
The same scenario played out in the sixth when Hailey Foresman led off with single, moved to second on a groundout and then stole third. An RBI single by Brook Karchner plated Foresman before Whittaker was intentionally walked again to set up an RBI single by Martin that made the score 9-3.
Hackenberg added an RBI single in the sixth, and then in the next at-bat Keister got a pitch she liked and drove it over the center field fence to clear the bases and end the game early.
“I have been in a hitting slump for a while and I just kind of got a little upset at myself, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to show what I can do,” said Keister. “We finally came together (late in the game). I think we were just a little out of it today, but then we just picked it up and got it together.
“I think the team was in a little bit of a slump, and I think we just pulled out of it and came together as a team,” added Keister.
And if Whittaker, Keister and the rest of Mifflinburg’s team keeps hitting like it did Thursday, only good things are sure to follow.
“They’ve been off a little the last few games, and it looks like they might have found it again and hopefully they keep with it,” said Hernandez.
Martin finished with a 3-for-4 day at the plate, as did Karchner. Whittaker, Hackenberg and Delaney Good all finished with two hits apiece.
In addition to her day at the plate, Martin also pitched a complete game with seven strikeouts. She only allowed two hits and no runs from the third inning on.
“Martin didn’t really have a rocky start — she had to figure out the plate and where the ump was calling (the strikes). Once she figured it out and figured out how she had to adjust — which she does a good job of — she was fine,” said Hernandez.
“The win says a lot. The girls have really matured and they are getting to a point now where they are just coming out and playing and letting the stress and everything else go away. They are playing hard, and as you can see they are dirty today. They worked today and I’m proud of them.”
Mifflinburg next hosts Shikellamy at 4:30 p.m., Monday in a Heartland-I matchup.
Mifflinburg 14, Central Mountain 3 (6 innings)
Central Mtn.120000 — 3-7-0
Mifflinburg 202037 — 14-15-0
Madi Knepp, Alyssa Fisher (5) and Bailee Reinninger. Vanessa Martin and Vanessa Boop.
WP: Martin. LP: Knepp.
Central Mountain hitters: Fisher, single, 2 runs scored; Caitlyn Watson, 2-for-3; Morgan Wetzel, walk; Knepp, RBI; Riley Hoover, 2-for-3, run; Alexa Shultz, single; Jenni Skow, single.
Mifflinburg hitters: Delaney Good, 2-for-4, 2 runs scored; Brook Karchner, 3-for-4, double, 3 runs, RBI; Libby Whittaker, 2-for-2, 2 HR (1st, 1 on; 3rd, 1 on), 2 walks, 4 RBI, 2 runs; Martin, 3-for-4, 3 RBI, 2 runs; Boop, walk, run; Abby Underhill, single; Kira Hackenberg, 2-for-4, double, 2 RBI, run; Keister, HR (6th, grand slam), 4 RBI; Hailey Foresman, single, run.