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Karns City’s Marra Patton the Straw That Stirs the Gremlin Softball Team’s Zany Drink

KARNS CITY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — On a team full of quirky characters, Marra Patton may be the ringleader.

The senior on the Karns City softball team is always quick with a joke, showing off her sly wit and dry sense of humor. She’s always smiling. Always engaging. Does the “Griddy dance” as she approaches home plate after belting a home run.

A perfect foil for the other free spirits on the roster.

She denies she’s the class clown — she’d rather pass that distinction off on others, like senior teammate Rossi McMillen.

“She can say some stuff,” Patton said of McMillen, smiling.

Karns City coach Mike Stitt, though, knows Patton is the straw that stirs the Gremlins’ zany drink.

“It’s gotta be Marra,” Stitt said.

Of all the things this Karns City softball team can do, having fun is near the top of the list.

Seniors Ashley Fox, Ally Walker and Sarah Patton, Marra’s twin sister, can match Marra joke for joke.

They keep things light. It’s their way of supporting their teammates and lowering stress levels.

“Yeah, we try to keep the mood light,” Marra Patton said. “If someone is down on themselves, if they just made and error, we try to keep their mood up with our laughing selves. We’re always laughing. It cheers everyone up.”

“We have the best time,” Patton added. “We’re so funny. All four of us (Marra and Sarah Patton, Fox and McMillen), we’re always laughing at each other. We’re screaming at each other all the time. We’ll be on the ground crying sometimes we’re laughing so hard.”

Patton is also central to Karns City’s success on the field.

She’s batting .491 with five home runs, 18 RBIs, an on base percentage of .571 and a staggering OPS of 1.420.

As a pitcher, she has been just as dominant at times.

Patton is 6-2 with a 2.58 ERA in 15 appearances. She’s struck 63 and walked just 17 in 73⅓ innings.

Patton is a big reason why the Gremlins won the District 9 Class 3A title. Karns City (14-3) will open the PIAA playoffs against Harbor Creek Monday at 1 p.m. at Heindl Field in DuBois.

Patton was also recently named Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference MVP.

“That’s crazy. I never thought I’d be the MVP,” Patton said. “You’ve got Ashley Fox, who makes diving catches every single game. You have Rossi in the outfield and they’re both hitting home runs, so I actually didn’t think I was going to get it, but it means the world.”

(Patton, left, with teammate Rossi McMillen)

Patton found out she had been chosen KSAC MVP on the bus ride to play DuBois Central Catholic, the D9 Class A champion, in a scrimmage during the layoff between the regular season and the district final.

Stitt rattled off the members of the team who were selected all-KSAC: Patton, of course, first-team pitcher, Fox first-team infield, McMillen first-team outfield and Jess Dunn, second-team catcher.

Stitt then said, “And we are in the presence of the MVP.”

Patton expected Fox’s or McMillen’s name to be read.

Not hers.

When it was, she was shocked.

“I was mind-blown,” Patton said. “It really caught me off guard.”

Stitt, though, expected Patton to put together the type of season she did, both at the plate and in the circle.

Patton was a standout last season on a Gremlin team that lost in the district final.

“She played well last year. She did a lot of pitching,” Stitt said. “Being a senior, she did travel ball during the summer. We wanted her to step up. We look for that maturity. She came through.”

Patton said she knew this season was going to be a special one for her and her team pretty early in the season.

In the third game of the campaign against Redbank Valley, Patton crushed two home runs off Bulldog freshman pitcher Mackenzie Foringer, who turned in a very good debut season for young Redbank.

“I read all the articles about her and how she was striking people out and I was like, ‘Wow, I’m honored I was able to hit two homers off of her,’” Patton said.

As the season progressed, the hits kept piling up for Patton, who moved into the cleanup spot in the stacked Karns City lineup.

The wins piled up, too.

Karns City won 13 straight games at one point this season.

The Gremlins beat WPIAL Class 5A power Armstrong, which won the District 7 championship Friday in extra innings, on the River Hawks’ home field.

But the Gremlins lost two straight to end the regular season, then had nearly two weeks off before playing Punxsutawney for the district title.

Karns City relied on its cast of wacky characters to get it through that adversity.

“It was hard coming off two losses like that,” Patton said. “We had a good winning streak, then lost those games, and then we had a long break. It was crazy. I was really nervous about it. What if we lose again? That would be bad.”

Patton and her teammates didn’t show those jitters.

When it came time to play the Chucks on Memorial Day morning for the championship, the Gremlins were their usual joking selves.

Stitt, though, was a nervous wreck.

“I paced here (at Diehl Stadium) waiting for the girls to show up before we left for DuBois,” Stitt said. “The girls showed up and got on the bus and they were relaxed. It was one of those things where, we lost the last two D9s to Punxsutawney and Clearfield with that break (because of COVID) in between, and I wanted them to have that championship. They did well. They came through.”

Patton, who will play at Butler County Community College next season, believes this team is special enough to make a state tournament run.

They’ve been battle tested and tempered by adversity.

Karns City also has an eclectic mix of personalities — the Patton twins leading the way.

“She’s really quite a person,” Marra said of her sister. “You’ll see us bickering. We’re always pushing each other and she’s always there to make me laugh and I’m there to make her laugh. She’s really the best. All my teammates are the best.”