A sign hangs in the Philipsburg-Osceola girls’ softball dugout on which goals for each game are listed. Among them are “Make an ESPN play.”
Which is what centerfielder Kendra Carns did, and it was the pivotal moment in a 7-1 P-O victory over Penns Valley on Monday afternoon.
The two teams were locked up in a typical Mountain League battle with the Lady Mounties holding a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth inning. Penns Valley’s Ryah Thompson drove a ball toward the fence in left-center when Carns ran it down on the warning track.
After the play, in the bottom of the sixth, P-O blew the game open with a four-run rally to make a winner out of Cam Harris.
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“That was kind of a spark plug for us,” P-O coach Jim Gonder said of Carns’ web gem. “We list those goals as sort of extra motivation.”
Lady Rams’ coach Tessa Deardorff also pointed to Carns’ play as a turning point.
“A play like that can be a big boost to a team,” she said. “She made a great play on a great hit, and there’s nothing we can do about that.”
What the Lady Rams could have done something about — and didn’t — was capitalize on three scoring opportunities.
Lydia Collison ripped the first pitch of the game inside the bag at third, and it rolled clear to the fence, putting Collison on second. Cassidy Stover bunted her over to third, but Harris got out of trouble with a strikeout and a pop-up.
In the third Emma Kubalak led off with a double and was left stranded as Harris struck out the next three batters.
In the fourth, with P-O holding a 1-0 lead, Thompson homered off the scoreboard and McKenna Lyons followed with a single. She moved up on a fielder’s choice, but the next two batters grounded out to end the threat.
“We need to string our hits together,” Deardorff said. “We left too many runners (five) on base.”
P-O got its first run when Jayde Burge drew a lead-off walk in the second, stole second, took third on Hannah Thompson’s sacrifice and scored when Madison Lucas’ sacrifice bunt was thrown away.
In the fourth the Lady Mounties added a run on a single by Lucas, a stolen base, a passed ball and Sadie Granville’s single.
And in the fifth the Lady Mounties added another solo run on a single by Harris and a double into the right-center gap by Burge.
Then, with two outs, came the eruption in the sixth. Granville singled, stole second and scored on a double by Maggie Peck. An error on Kylie Thal’s grounder to short allowed Peck to score, and Harris followed with a bomb to left-center to break the game open.
“My hope is that this game will give our kids a boost and they will keep getting better,” Deardorff said. “The score doesn’t reflect what kind of game this was. It just got away from us a little at the end.”
The Lady Rams are 1-3 but the three losses are to intra-county rivals Bald Eagle Area, Bellefonte and P-O. The Lady Rams touched Harris for eight hits in the loss.
“You have to give Penns Valley credit,” Gonder said, “They hit the ball solid against a good pitcher. They have been playing teams tough. They are much improved. Their third baseman (Ryleigh Cain) made some nice plays. And (Emma) Kubalak pitched tough against us down there last year. She puts a lot of spin on the ball.
“Offensively, we need to get better. Defensively, we’re playing well, but I’m still fiddling around with the lineup.”