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P-O defeats Bald Eagle Area 8-3

by on May 17, 2017 1:49 PM

MILESBURG – The District 6 Softball Tournament matchups may already have been announced, but that didn’t mean the Philipsburg-Osceola softball team didn’t have remaining work to do at Bald Eagle Area on May 15.

There was still the matter of deciding the winner of the Mountain League championship, which is always the first priority for the Lady Mounties.

What’s more, this game was against BEA, after all, and would add another entry into the record book of perhaps the strongest rivalry in any sport in the county.

Consequently P-O wasted little time getting to it. The Mounties scored four runs with two outs in the first inning, added four more in the sixth and seventh, and held off the Lady Eagles for an 8-3 victory.

The win guaranteed at least a tie for the league championship for Philipsburg and improved the Mounties’ record to 14-3 overall and 12-2 in the league.

It also evened the season’s series with BEA at one game apiece, with, perhaps, another one to go.

“I think we came into this game thinking they (the Eagles) are still our rivals,” P-O winning pitcher Camryn Harris said, “and we wanted to achieve our goal, which was to become Mountain League champs.

“I think it builds a lot of confidence for us to be up high, winning the Mountain League like that.”
Philipsburg opened the game by putting its first two hitters on base. Maggie Peck singled, and then Hannah Thompson was hit by a pitch. Maddie Lucas sacrificed them both up a base, but an infield hit by Harris was not enough to score Peck, so the bases were loaded.

Jade Burge hit next, and when she grounded into a fielder’s-choice force at home for the second out, BEA pitcher Madison Ripka could see her way out of the inning.

But catcher Kylie Thal ripped a clutch, two-run single that broke the ice for P-O. Burge then added the third run on a perfectly-executed first-and-third play before Sadie Granville’s single scored Thal to make it 4-0.

“I feel pretty confident in that position to have to clutch up,” Thal said. “I like that pressure. I like being in that position.

“I was expecting outside, but she (Ripka) threw it inside. I just kept my hands inside of it. It felt pretty good; I was pretty excited.”

Normally, with P-O’s pitching and defense, four runs would be more than imposing, but BEA chipped away.

Caitlynn Close gave notice that the Eagles were not going anywhere with a long, first inning home run that made the score 4-1.

Ripka settled down and kept the Mounties off the board until BEA crept a little closer in the fifth. Megan Kresovich opened that inning with a double, and then an out later, Ripka helped herself with an RBI single that closed the gap to 4-2.

With the game now suddenly tight, P-O showed its mettle. The Mounties gave themselves some room with a run in the sixth on a walk, a double by Thompson and an RBI hit by Lucas.

In the seventh, P-O loaded the bases on a walk and singles by Granville and Annie Kost. Rachel Simpson stepped in and put the game away with a three-run double to right field that made it 8-3 going into BEA’s final at bat.

The Eagles still contended, with Ripka getting her second RBI of the day, but relief pitcher Peck got the final three outs in order to end the game.

“Give Rachel Simpson a lot of credit,” Philipsburg coach Jim Gonder said. “Bases loaded, and it was a big hit. She hit it hard. I thought we had an opportunity to score more runs, but Bald Eagle played good defense and their pitcher (Ripka) mixed it up on us.

“I think we’re getting better. There are things we can do better, but I’m happy with our progress. We definitely improved. We got the No. 2 seed, and we clinched at least a tie for the Mountain League championship, which is our first goal. Win the Mountain League, and you have a chance to get a good seed, so that was a big deal for us.”

Philipsburg will now move into the District 6, 3-A playoffs with an opening-round game at home against West Shamokin on Monday, May 22.

Bald Eagle, the No. 6 seed in D-6, will travel to Cresson on the same day to take on 18-2 Penn Cambria.

The winners of those two games will face each other in a semifinal, all-in game. Whoever wins goes to the district finals and qualifies for the PIAA tournament. The team that loses sees its season come to an end.



Pat Rothdeutsch covers Penn State football for The Centre County Gazette. Email him at sports@centrecountygazette.com
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