The big story over the last couple of days has been all of the big-name injuries early in the NBA playoffs.
The Milton softball team knows what teams like the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks are going through in trying to found their way without a standout player.
And if the Bulls are as successful in dealing with the loss of Derrick Rose as the Black Panthers have been without Maddie Krebs, the 76ers are in a lot of trouble.
Milton put itself in the driver's seat in the Heartland Athletic Conference Division I on Tuesday night with 1-0 win nine-inning win over Jersey Shore on the road, avenging a loss on April 3 to the Bulldogs.
The Black Panthers now stand in first place alone in the league with four league contests left. Milton will be favored over all four opponents -- Selinsgrove, Montoursville, Shamokin and Midd-West -- but as Jersey Shore found out two weeks ago when Montoursville upset it, Milton can't afford a letdown to keep ahead of Jersey Shore.
Black Panthers' coach Bill Keefer biggest concern was how replace Krebs' better than .600 on-base percentage in the middle of the Milton lineup. They've done it by relying on pitching and defense.
Milton righthander Kristi Weaver has been nothing short of spectacular over the last two weeks, not allowing a run in four games, including seven perfect innings against Jersey Shore on Tuesday on her way to a one-hit shutout. Weaver faced the minimum in the game as the only Bulldog hit was erased on a double play.
Weaver's dominant run coincides with a minor switch the senior made about two weeks ago. Weaver had always pitched with soft spikes and complained of slipping on the mound.
Keefer and the Milton coaching staff talked the senior into switching and the results have been nothing short of amazing.
"We got Kristi to throw with metal spikes for the first time in her life (two weeks ago). I think it's added five to 10 miles per hour to her pitches," Keefer said after last week's 1-0 win over Danville. "She was always complaining she was slipping. We told her if she was going to keep slipping, she was just going to have to throw with metal spikes. So she's finally throwing with metal spikes and I really think she's throwing much harder."
And now, 11 games into the season, the Milton's young offense is coming along. With Justine Marks and Weaver the only seniors in the starting lineup, the Black Panthers have gotten contributions from up-and-down its lineup, just not all at the same time.
With the way Weaver has been throwing, if the Black Panthers can consistently get her two or three runs in the district playoffs, Milton just might be celebrating again later this month at Elm Park in Williamsport.
Danville junior Tara Fritz had a nice birthday last Friday. Not only did the Ironmen bounce back from another tough loss, 1-0 to Milton on Thursday, with a 10-0 win over Montoursville, Fritz also homered in the game.