Bald Eagle Area coach Don Lucas thought he had it all figured out before Wednesday’s game. He planned to start fireballer Madison Ripka — until he reflected back on Philipsburg-Osceola’s stat sheet.
He then remembered P-O got the best of Bellefonte’s Tara Baney, who also throws fast. So he changed his mind and decided to instead start finesse pitcher Zoey Surovec.
Lucas made the right decision. Surovec led the Lady Eagles to a 5-3 win Wednesday after she got 15 outs on either fly balls or line drives. Only three outs came on ground balls, and two of those came in the bottom of the final frame.
“We thought it would be better to go with someone who is a little slower (than Ripka) and keep their hitters off-balance,” Lucas said. “(Surovec) usually keeps the ball low and outside and gets a lot of ground-ball outs to the right side. Today she was able to keep it outside, and they were getting their bats under it. She did what we needed her to do, and she got stronger as the game went on. And our defense played great today.”
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Surovec didn’t walk a batter, nor did she register a strikeout, in getting the win.
“I was mostly getting them on high fastballs,” she said. “And my curve usually breaks down, but today it was going up. This is a really nice win for us. It feels really good because we wanted to prove that we can be up there with them, that we can beat them.”
The game started out as though it was going to be a high-scoring affair as BEA registered three runs in the top of the first and P-O answered with three in the bottom of the inning.
But BEA’s defense was solid afterward, and BEA went after P-O pitcher Kam Harris again in the third. Mackenzie McCloskey drew a lead-off walk, went to second on a single by Ripka and scored on a sac fly to center by Megan Kresovich. Ripka then scored on an RBI-single by Laccee Barnhart to end the scoring.
P-O brought on reliever Maggie Peck to finish the game, and she allowed only a single over the last four innings. But, by then, her job was to hold the Eagles at bay until the offense could get to Surovec.
“Surovec did a nice job,” Lady Mounties coach Jim Gonder said. “We didn’t square the ball up. After the second inning, we were popping the ball up. I didn’t see anything unusual that she was doing. I’ll have to look at the video.”
What he’ll see is six pop-ups to Ripka at second base and seven balls hit to the outfield for outs.
“After the first inning, I settled down and got into my rhythm,” said Surovec, whose grandfather, Bob, pitched BEA to the 1961 Central Penn League championship. “It was nice to do this for my teammates. I wanted to prove to them I could do it.”
A veteran of countless battles with P-O when he was at Penns Valley and now BEA, Lucas knows how tough it is to win at P-O.
“This will help our confidence, going against Central,” he said. “And we will see P-O again. This was just a battle. We’ve still got the war. But we rose to the occasion today. Zoey pitched well, and we played great defense. I certainly didn’t think the score would be 5-3.”