LEBANON >> It was an optimistic start to a brand new season for a program that needed it.
Governor Mifflin took control of its season opener at Cedar Crest from the first inning and cruised to a 9-1 win Thursday afternoon over the host Falcons. The Mustangs — coming off a down 6-14 campaign a year ago — displayed consistent poise and more than a smattering of solid defense in shutting down their Lancaster- Lebanon foes.
The Mustangs — under the guidance of new head coach Jeff Egan, who arrived after nine seasons in Muhlenburg — put the work in during the offseason and it showed from the start. The club received rock-solid defense, especially from shortstop Ariana Chuprinsky and center fielder Jenna Giles. Chuprinsky fielded her position flawlessly, making several strong throws for put outs off her backhand from the hole, while Giles sprawled out to make a spectacular catch in the third inning from her outfield spot.
Offensively, Mifflin got four hits and three runs scored from leadoff hitter Chuprinsky, and a huge bases-clearing double in the top of the fourth inning from cleanup hitter Mary Beth Stone to push an early 2-0 lead to 5-0.
“These girls worked hard all off-season and they put a lot of time and effort in,” Mifflin assistant coach Todd Becker said. “We have leadership on this team and they deserve it. They stuck together. They had a great warmup session and carried it over to the field for seven innings.”
“It’s a confidence-builder for us. We told them at the start that every game counts, league or non-league. We’re going to be aggressive out there.”
The Mustangs got a huge bump from pitcher Dani King, a junior who was making her first varsity start. King surrendered just three hits — all singles — in going the distance. She struck out two and walked two.
“Dani carries a little presence out there,” Becker said, “which helps our team out, having that kind of confidence out there. She has a good head on her shoulders and she’s focused. We put her down in the batting order today (eighth) to take some batting pressure off her, told her that pitching was the focus. And she did a tremendous job.”
Mifflin scratched out a pair of runs in its first at-bat of the season. Chuprinsky, Sierra Sallada and Ellie Denlinger started the game with consecutive single, the third of which brought Chuprinsky around to score. Sallada would later trot home of a sacrifice fly off the bat of Joely Griffith.
But it was Stone’s three-run triple over the head of Cedar Crest right fielder Victoria Frazier — the hardest-hit ball of the game — that gave the Mustangs the breathing room they needed to see it through.
“I was just trying to make solid contact and drive some runs in for our team,” Stone, a senior, said. “It was an inside high fastball.”
Cedar Crest allowed six infield hits during the game — including two of the three singles during Mifflin’s opening salvo. It was a passivity that Falcons head coach Erik Edwards said he will address.
“We didn’t make the routine plays tonight,” Edwards said, “and that’s the bottom line if you want to compete. That really cost us. We just have to be more aggressive, charge the ball, make some plays. We’ll work on it, make improvements, and have a better showing next time.”
Mifflin’s Ellie Litwin knocked four singles in four at-bats from the bottom of the order. Denlinger was 3-for-4.
Crest starter Maddie Gable was tagged with the loss. She surrendered 10 hits in a complete game effort.
Governor Mifflin 9, Cedar Crest 1
Governor Mifflin – 2 0 0 3 0 3 1 — 9 10 0
Cedar Crest – 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 — 1 3 0
WP: Dani King LP: Maddie Gable
3B: GM, Chupinsky, Stone; CC, Spang