District 6’s All-Star softball team watched intently from left field as 11 of the region’s former players were inducted into the district Hall of Fame.
They played on the same fields at different times and experienced grand achievements and heartbreaks in separate eras.
For a moment, though, they shared the field on Nittany Lion Softball Park before District 6’s seniors played two softball games, the last time they’d take an at-bat, throw a pitch and cheer their teammates, many of them new, from the dugout.
Chasity Myers, one of three former Philipsburg-Osceola players inducted into the Hall of Fame, recalled the summer days when she teamed with fellow inductees Taylor Harpster and Kelsey Gonder to win the 2007 PIAA Class AA Championship.
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“We weren’t quite thinking about the Hall of Fame, because we were really focused on trying to win the next game,” Myers said. “I’d give anything to have another game with them and to play on a field like this. Back then we were just enjoying a sport that we loved.”
Bald Eagle shortstop Haley Giedroc, who learned to play second base in warm-ups and hit an infield single in the first game, said it was an inspiration to see former players she knows inducted. Her sisters Whitney and Kendra Giedroc played with Bald Eagle inductees Megan Shaw and Brooke Klinefelter. Former Bellefonte player Brittany Smith was also inducted.
“We were practicing when they started the inductions, and we could kind of stop and watch and see them get inducted before we continued practicing,” Haley Giedroc said. “Some of them are my sisters’ friends, and I kind of thought of how cool it would be for me someday to join them in the Hall of Fame. It was really an inspiration for all of us.”
The play on the field also was inspirational.
State College’s Jess Henderson, Ferndale’s Taylor Yuhas and Cambria Heights’ Cori James combined for a one-hit shutout in the first all-star game, which District 6 won 1-0.
Henderson threw 23 strikes and five balls in the game’s first three innings, retiring each batter she faced.
Bellwood-Antis catcher Jacqueline Finn, who hit a double, caught the first four innings of the shutout effort.
“It’s been really awesome playing with people that I’ve played against or I’ve never played against before,” Finn said. “It was tough, though. Jess’ change-up is like a knuckle ball, and I’ve only ever seen one other pitcher who can throw like that, so that gave me a challenge tonight that I wasn’t expecting.”
District 6’s winning run was set up by Bellwood-Antis’ Mandy Glass taking a pitch to the wrist and infield singles by Yuhas and Central Cambria’s Krista Berzonsky.
Philipsburg-Osceola’s McKenzie Burge stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and drove in the winning run off a fielder’s choice.
“I was just happy to do something to contribute to the team,” Burge said. “It’s was a special hit, because I got the hit against a girl that I’m going to play with at St. Francis.”
Burge won’t remind District 4 pitcher Mikayla Bower of the play when they join forces in college.
“I can’t do that,” Burge said. “She’ll remind me of when she struck me out earlier in the game.”
District 6 lost the second game 8-1.
District 4 nearly batted around the order in the second game’s fifth inning, picking up four runs. Bower hit a three-run triple to put her team up 7-0. Whitney Cross, who played for District 4, hit a two-run double an inning earlier.
Bellefonte center fielder Liz Linn stopped the bleeding in the fourth inning with a highlight-reel worthy diving catch in shallow right center field. She was later hit by a pitch in the sixth inning.
“It was fun making some memories on the field, but I’m really just honored to get to play tonight,” Linn said. “My favorite part was seeing Jess (Fishburn’s) line drive.”
Bellefonte’s Fishburn hit a line drive up the middle in the second game’s seventh inning to continue a short rally by District 6. The next batter, Hollidaysburg’s Kirsta Shay, hit an RBI single for District 6’s lone run.
“That’s beautiful,” Bellefonte’s Sarah Menna shouted from the dugout. “Keep it going.”
Mifflin County’s Maggie Wray, however, hit into an untimely line drive double play to end the game.
“It’s OK,” Menna said. “Good game.”
District 6’s seniors saw their last high school play, but new-found relationships between opponents turned teammates blossomed beyond the games.
“It’s been really interesting and fun to play with everyone I’ve played against,” Menna said. “We gelled really well and got to share the love of the game and find out what we’re doing next, if we’re going to school and playing more.”