UNIVERSITY PARK — This time, there would be no game-saving catch, no ball that finds grass instead of leather, no wink from Lady Luck.
No, this time harsh reality jumped up and bit the Bald Eagle Area softball team, crushing its dream of a PIAA title, turning the smiles of victors into the tears of the vanquished in the wake of a 13-5 loss to Central Columbia in the PIAA Class AA title game.
This time, the magical run through the postseason ended one stop short of the dream destination, leaving the Lady Eagles to stand and watch as the Lady Blue Jays went on to the end of the line where the gold medals waited.
“Depressed,” is how BEA right fielder Logan Fischer described her feelings. “But I’m more sad about losing our seniors than I am about losing the game. They were always there for us, picking us up when we were down. Megan (Peters) was the crazy one and Makennah (Dyke) was the serious one, so they balanced out.
“But we didn’t expect this at all. We didn’t expect four errors. Our defense just wasn’t there today.”
Not like it was all through the district and PIAA playoffs, and especially not like it was when the team in the other dugout was Philipsburg-Osceola.
“The biggest thing this year was that we beat P-O. They’re our biggest rivals,” Fischer added. “We might not have gotten the gold, but we did beat P-O.”
And it was in those games that BEA played to its potential, coming up with big plays and key hits. Against Central Columbia, the Lady Eagles experienced what it’s like to be on the other side of that situation.
“I don’t know what happened,” said Eagle coach Curt Heverly. “I looked out there and I didn’t see my team. I saw a team I never saw before. I’m disappointed. Not disappointed that we took the silver instead of the gold, but that we weren’t what we are. That’s what hurt me.”
There will be plenty of time for reflection as Heverly and his team look back on a season that saw them rise to a level which was unthinkable in March.
That all changed in the last month as they went on their postseason run, winning in dramatic fashion game after game, dispatching doubters along the way. What once seemed unattainable, suddenly was within reach. And then gone.
“We had high expectations coming into this game,” said third baseman Marissa Tobias. “And it ended up that we couldn’t pull it out. It hurts because we put in so much effort. There’s a lot of heart on this team. We never thought we’d win districts and then we ended up winning districts. That was our goal. Then it was just one step at a time.”
But against the heavy-hitting Lady Blue Jays, when BEA needed giant steps to stay in the game, there were missteps instead.
“They’re a good hitting team” Tobias added. “And they were hitting the gaps. When a team does that ,there’s nothing you can do about it. There’s no reason to get frustrated with each other. Today just wasn’t our day for the hits to fall. We just happened to have a bad day and it was on Friday the 13th.”
It was Makennah Dykem who may have been more shell-shocked than any of her teammates after Central Columbia rocked her for 17 hits, one of them a monstrous home run by Allison McCracken that hit the top of the scoreboard in left field in the sixth inning.
“That was one of the best hits anyone has ever had off me,” she said. “That was an awful feeling. It took everything out of me. They took everything away from me. They obviously had studied me and took away all of my junk. It was like they knew what I was going to throw. My stuff wasn’t working and they are very good hitters.”
And because they are, this morning they are the ones with the gold medals.
“We didn’t play up to our potential,” Dyke added. “We proved we can go this far. This just shows that we need to work harder.”