PHILIPSBURG — The Lady Mounties are going home. Or at least that’s what the District 6 finals feel like to them.
By rolling over Blairsville, 10-0 in five innings here Thursday, Philipsburg-Osceola cemented a spot in the District 6 AA finals for the fifth straight season. And perhaps no trip to the finals has been as smooth as this one as P-O beat three challengers by a combined score of 29-1.
“Well, the way things fell, we were fortunate,’’ said P-O coach Jim Gonder. “Some things happened and we took advantage of them.”
One thing that happened is that the Lady Mounties garnered the No. 2 seed which put them in the lower half of the bracket away from country rivals Penns Valley and Bald Eagle Area as well as away from unbeaten top seed Penn Cambria.
At the same time, they took care of business, not allowing any of their three playoff victims to mount even a mild threat in 8-0 and 11-1 wins before Thursday.
Blairsville was unable to muster any offense against Chelsey Henry, managing only a fourth-inning single up the middle by Shelby Oswald as Henry allowed only four base runners.
“The key for her is to get ahead in the count, then she can throw her different pitches,” Gonder said. “She’s more mature now and she has more confidence. Plus, she’s a good defensive pitcher and she’s starting to hit the ball.”
It was Henry who started P-O’s first rally when she doubled to center with one out in the second. One out later Maggie Peck doubled Henry home. Peck scored on a wild pitch and Tiffani Wagner scored on a single by Abby Showers, who had three RBI.
P-O blew the game open in the third, taking advantage of three straight walks after two were out and two-run singles by Showers and Haley Frank.
“We were up 3-0 and had runners on second and third with no outs,” Gonder said. “Then we had two strikeouts and I was thinking that was going to be a big momentum shifter. Then we scored six runs. That was a key point in the game for us. I haven’t seen a scenario like that in a long time. It was a little strange.”
Heyward put the game into the mercy rule situation when she opened the fourth inning with a line drive homer over the fence in left to make it 10-0.
“I knew coming in here that this was a good hitting team,” said Blairsville coach Frank Harsh. “Against a team like that you can’t afford any mistakes. And we’re young. We have two freshmen in the outfield and they were nervous on balls hit to them. But when you get in this position you have to make plays.”
Harsh said the gusty conditions were of little consequence even though at times gusts had the flag pole in right center bending under their force.
“We’ve played in wind and rain all year,” he said.
A bigger problem, he suggested, was the competition his team faces during the season.
“I’m not saying our conference is bad but there are not a lot of good teams in it,” he said. “It’s us and Marion Center. This (Mountain League) is a much better conference. These teams have to be ready every game. To beat them you have to play a perfect game and you have to hit some. We did neither.”