MILESBURG — Add Morgan Williamson’s name to the list of players who have come up big in the clutch in the long-running Philipsburg-Osceola-Bald Eagle Area softball rivalry.
The P-O righthander choked off BEA rallies in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings in a 3-2 Lady Mounties win in a battle of unbeaten teams that was delayed 45 minutes due to rain.
The Lady Eagles stranded eight base runners, seven of them in scoring position, and twice Williamson got the last out of the inning via strikeout including the game-ender. She finished the day with a six-hitter, walking five and striking out six.
“It felt pretty good,” she said of the win. “It was tough but I knew I had my defense behind me and all I had to do was hit my spots and let the defense take care of the rest. I got nervous there in the middle innings but once we started to hit I felt confident we would come out with the win.”
Which it did on several occasions in a well-played battle of rivals that is always one of the must-see events in any spring.
But it fell to Williamson to get the job done, especially after the rain delay in the middle of the fifth inning.
“She made some great pitches at the right time,” said Lady Mounties coach Jim Gonder. “She’s crafty. She mixes her pitches and hits her spots. She’s the Tom Glavine of our staff. Both teams left a lot of runs on the field. This was a quality game for early in the season.”
History has taught the fans of both teams to expect nothing less. This one featured sparkling defensive plays in the infield by both teams that kept the score low.
BEA grabbed the early lead when Haylee Giedroc drew a walk, stole second and scored on a double to the left-center fence by Marisa Tobias, who reached third on an infield out but was left there on a ground out to short.
The Lady Mounties caught up in the fourth when, with one out Abby Showers, who Gonder singled out for her defensive work, drew a walk, went to third on Megan Bainey’s single and both runners scored an Maggie Peck’s double to right-center. Peck reached third on a wild pitch but was stranded there as McKenna Dyke induced Chelsey Henry to pop out to first and struck out Tiffani Wagner. Dyke matched Williamson with a four-hitter while walking three and striking out four.
BEA’s Logan Fischer singled to open the fourth, took second on a sacrifice and went to third on Morgan Nyman’s come backer. P-O’s McKenzie Burge made a diving, backhand catch of Megan Peters’ soft liner in foul territory at first to end the inning.
With the Lady Mounties leading 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth the rains hit, stopping the game with Dyke on first with one out. When play resumed, Mikayla Smith rapped the first pitch she saw to the fence in dead center, putting runners at second and third with one out. But Williamson got Giedroc and Tobias on grounders to escape the jam.
“We talked about mental toughness during the delay,” Gonder said. “We just told them to forget the things that happened and to control what they could control. They were loose in the dugout.”
And when they came to bat in the sixth they added what would prove to be the winning run as Burge led off by getting aboard when her fly ball to right-center was dropped. She scored on a single by Showers, who took second on the throw. But Dyke bore down and got three fielder’s choices to choke off the threat.
In the top of the seventh, BEA mounted a two-out rally when Giedroc singled and took second on the throw in. Tobias doubled to right-center and Fischer drew a two-out walk before Morgan Peters was called out on strikes to end the game.
“Our defense was good and our pitching was solid,” said BEA coach Curt Heverly. “McKenna holding them to three runs in seven innings, I’ll take that any time. She’s solid. After the rain delay, I asked her if she wanted to come out and she said, ‘No, this is mine.’
“The culprit today was our hitting. This is all on us. If we could have come up with a clutch hit any time, this might have been a different story. They (P-O) are a good hitting ball club. We are too, we just need three or four more hitters. She (Williamson) didn’t overpower anyone but she kept the ball down. We should have hit her harder than we did. They have a good outfield and you have to rope the ball to get it in there.
“But we’re a young team and we did some dumb things today, things that are mind-boggling. We have a couple of positions where we need to get better and we have some freshmen coming. But when you’re 6-0, you can’t make a lot of changes. We’re not where we want to be yet.”