Softball: District 4 team beats District 6 in all-star game

wmoody@centredaily.com June 21, 2013 

— The question came from a player in the District 6 dugout.

“What’s her name?” a player inquired about her teammate at bat.

After being told, she screamed, “C’mon, Megan.”

It’s that kind of thing that happens at the annual Pennsylvania Softball Coaches Association All-Star Game.

Where else will you see a career shortstop in left field, a pitcher making a diving catch while playing second base or a player taking the final swings of her career?

Officially, District 4 ended a long losing streak to District 6 on Thursday with a 5-3 triumph in a 10-inning game at Lock Haven University.

But, to the participants the contest was a lot more than the final decision.

“It’s really fun because everybody from rival teams comes together and plays together,” said Bellefonte third baseman Jess McClenahan. “You’re used to going against them, but it’s fun to come together and play.”

And even if the names aren’t familiar to start, the players share common ground.

“It took me awhile to start clicking in that I remember these girls and these faces,” Penns Valley first baseman Madysin Sharer said. “They’re all awesome and really nice.”

Erica DeVinney, one of five Centre County participants, played left field for the first time since her freshman season. It was during that season that she moved to shortstop and helped the Lady Raiders win a PIAA Class AAA title.

“I like it, though,” said DeVinney of the view from left field. “It’s different. You get to watch everything.”

Changing positions is part of the fun. “I enjoy that,” added DeVinney, who will major in either childhood education or graphic design and hopes to walk onto the softball team at Penn State. “Whatever they need, I’m willing to do anything.”

Centre County’s representatives all made impacts in the 10-inning contest. District 6 played half its 18 players in the first five innings and the other half over the final five innings.

The score was tied 1-1 after the first five innings. Philipsburg-Osceola’s Kate Burge opened the contest in the circle and hurled three shutout innings. Burge allowed two hits and struck out five.

“I was happy,” Burge said of her performance. “I couldn’t put a lot of pressure on myself because a lot of these girls have never seen me before. I was new throwing to them.”

DeVinney drove in the District 6 run, lining an opposite field double to right field to plate the Johnna Garbrick (Central Mountain).

“I thought I was a little late on it,” DeVinney said. “I’m glad that it dropped.”

Burge also put a charge into the ball, narrowly missing a home run that hit at the base of the fence in left field. She had to hustle to second for a double.

“I heard people say it was gone so I started doing my trot,” Burge said with a chuckle. “Then I had to pick it up going around first.”

McClenahan, who will major in human development and family studies and hopes to walk onto the softball team at Penn State Altoona, reached base on a walk and made a nice catch of a foul ball up against the fence.

Following a break to honor the Hall of Fame honorees, which included former P-O standouts Brittany Murphy and Mackenzie Gonder, the contest continued.

Bald Eagle Area’s Megan Dudish started in the circle in the second half of the game was effective, but also a little wild. Dudish fanned five in three innings, but allowed a run score on a bases-loaded walk and another on a wild pitch, which tied the score at 3-3 in the eighth.

Sharer got in on the extra-base action with a double and made excellent catch of a foul ball along the fence. She was also out on a close play at the plate.

“I slid,” she said. “I don’t usually slide, so that was good.”

For Sharer, the contest represented her final game. She’ll attend Indiana University (Pa.) and major in nursing.

“This was it for me,” Sharer said. “It’s crazy (that) four years went that fast. It was a great four years.”

District 6 got RBI singles from Morgan Kunes (Central Mountain) and Courtlin Holland (Claysburg-Kimmel). Kunes (left field) and Bellwood Antis Taylor Payne (second base) made two excellent diving catches.

District 4’s Alexis Bower singled home the eventual game-winning run in the ninth and was dominant in the circle. Bower, headed to Saint Francis, struck out seven, including four in the last inning after a batter reached on a dropped third strike.

Jackie Clemens (Warrior Run) belted a home run and joined Amanda Daneker (Loyalsock) and Kayla Allen (Jersey Shore) with two hits.

Players from both sides left smiling.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re from,” Burge said. “We’re all good ballplayers. I think everyone here did a great job.”

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