Port Allegany Reporter Argus
May 26, 2011
Kyley Mickle settled underneath the towering pop fly, a smile spreading across the Gator shortstop’s face as she waved her teammates back. As the ball landed safely in her glove for the final out of Port Allegany’s 9-4 win over Johnsonburg in Monday’s District 9 softball playoff opener, the on-field celebration began, but Mickle already had Port’s next opponent on her mind.
“I was just like, ‘We’re going to Coudy!’” she said with a grin, looking ahead to Wednesday afternoon’s quarterfinal game against the third-seeded Falcons (12-2) in Coudersport.
First, though, the sixth-seeded Gators (12-6) had to get past visiting No. 11 Johnsonburg. The Ramettes weren’t going back to Elk County without a fight, taking a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning of a back-and-forth game.
That’s when, following a season-long trend of late-game power surges, the Port High bats came alive. Catcher Cora Bova started the rally with a one-out single, then raced all the way home to score the tying run on Mickle’s double to right field. First baseman Rachel Taylor left no doubt on her next swing of the bat, launching a rocket over the centerfield fence to put Port in front for good.
“I knew it was gone when she hit it, because she hit it solid,” coach Dave Morey said of Taylor’s two-run homer, which gave his squad a 5-3 lead.
Johnsonburg would get one back in the top of the sixth, but the Gators answered with a four-spot in the bottom of the inning – highlighted by Mickle’s two-run blast to left, followed by doubles from Taylor and Kris-Ann Raymo – and the Ramettes went down in order in the seventh to end the game.
“They were just so far out in front of that pitcher,” Morey explained. “They finally figured her out and started hitting the ball. Our defense has been good, but we just didn’t hit. Once we started hitting, it was all over.”
Mickle (2-3, HR, 2B, 3 RBI) and Taylor (2-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI) led the way at the plate, with Bova (2-3, RBI), Becky Andrus, and Sarah Brodhun (2-3) also doubling and Becca Lathrop sacrificing in a run. Andrus and Jenny Shelley shared pitching duties for the Gators, while Kiana Myers took the loss for Johnsonburg.
“I thought it was going to hit the fence,” Mickle said of her first career homer, finally reaching a goal she’d set for herself as a freshman. “That’s how it’s been all year – I almost had two of them, but one hit the fence and a girl caught the other one over the fence. This one just kept carrying, and it was out.”
And the timing couldn’t have been any better for Mickle and her fellow seniors.
“This is our first playoff game. We haven’t been here in five or six years,” she said. “To finally get a win … I can’t explain it. It’s just awesome.”
Now, it’s off to Coudy, which swept the season series by scores of 8-3 and 10-0. But the playoffs are a brand-new season, and Mickle believes.
“I think we can do it,” she said. “If we keep playing like we have been, I think we really can do it. They’ve been our rivals in every sport, they always beat us, so it’s nice to get one last shot at them.”
At Port Allegany, May 23:
Kiana Myers (1 SO, 2 BB) and Dani Dwyer
Becky Andrus (6 SO, 5 BB), Jenny Shelley (6) (1 BB) and Cora Bova
HR: Taylor (PA), Mickle (PA). 2B: Bova (PA), Mickle (PA), Taylor (PA), Andrus (PA), Brodhun (PA), Raymo (PA), K. Myers (J).