Southern Huntingdon pushed seven runs across the plate in the bottom of the second inning and overcame a pair of home runs from visiting Juniata Valley to celebrate its Senior Recognition afternoon with a 10-5 Inter-County Conference interdivisional win over the Green Hornets.
The Rockets honored the program’s lone senior Abby Hockenberry prior to the game. Southern also honored the memory of former scoreboard operator Jim ‘Pap’ Collins who passed away this past winter. A plaque will be mounted in the home dugout in Collins’ memory. His granddaughters Randi, Renee and Robin Schmidt were all former Rocket softball players.
Southern Huntingdon’s Hattie Flood surrendered nine hits to the Hornets, while walking four and striking out three to pick up the complete-game victory. Valley’s Maya Hall also went the distance, surrendering 10 hits and five walks, while fanning three.
The Rockets improved to 12-6 overall, while the Hornets lipped to 4-11.
“We came out and started hitting right away, but we had lapses on the bases with our running,” noted Rocket head coach Terri Lessley. “Hattie pitched seven good innings, but was hurting with a hamstring injury all game. The defense played well behind Hattie today and Emily (Greenland) has been making some great catches and continued today against some hard hits. Hall has some good speed, but I liked how we were patient at the plate today.”
Juniata Valley went right to work in the top of the first when Maddison Belinda’s sacrifice fly to right field scored Hall for the early lead. However, the Hornets left two runners on in the inning. Another sacrifice fly in the second and back-to-back doubles by Hall and Megan Belinda helped Valley build a 3-0 advantage.
However, the Rocket bats went to work in the bottom of the frame and, with the help of a pair of Hornet errors, pushed seven runs home. An error on a ball hit by Greenland enabled Carlee Leidy to score, while Hannah Hunsinger followed with a two-run base hit, plating Kenadee Doyle and Greenland to knot the game at 3-3. Hockenberry singled home Lauren Hartman and Hattie Flood delivered a two-run double. A Haylie Boden sacrifice fly scored Alexis Fogal, who was courtesy running for Flood.
Valley chipped away at the deficit with single runs in both the third and fourth innings. Maddison Belinda launched a lead-off home run in the second and then Brooke Boonie matched that effort with a two-out solo shot in the fourth to close the gap to 7-5.
After the big second inning, Southern came up empty over the next three frames. However, an RBI single by Doyle and a two-run double from Greenland pushed three insurance runs home in the sixth.
Juniata Valley had a runner thrown out at third in the sixth and left runners on first and second in the inning.
“The wheels just fell off in the second inning,” commented Juniata Valley coach Stan Belinda. “You can’t start off an inning with a hit batter and two errors. Those seven runs in the second hurt, but we kept battling back. However, we had too many mental blunders today and the sixth inning was a momentum changer.”
Juniata Valley returns to action Saturday when it faces Huntingdon at 11 a.m. in the opening round of the annual Huntingdon Tournament. Southern Huntingdon closes its regular season Wednesday at home against neighboring Mount Union.