Philipsburg-Osceola’s Jayde Burge couldn’t stop smiling after hitting the first home run of her career Friday.
She rounded the bases, met her teammates at home plate and left the dugout to embrace her father on his birthday. Fans cheered for Burge, who received another surprise when she spotted former teammate Chelsey Henry with her dad. After hugging Henry, Burge returned to the dugout and helped the Lady Mounties finish their 4-1 win over Penns Valley.
Burge’s fourth-inning home run proved to be the highlight of the P-O victory.
“I just wanted to cry because I was so happy,” Burge said.
Burge finished 2 for 4 with two RBIs as she continues to produce in the middle of the Lady Mounties’ lineup. Her solo home run in the top of the fourth inning pushed P-O ahead 2-0 to support winning pitcher Kam Harris, who allowed one run in five innings. Penns Valley didn’t have the offensive firepower to close that gap as the Lady Rams managed just three hits.
“They made some great plays or we hit it right at somebody” Penns Valley coach Tessa Deardorff said. “And I told the girls ‘unlucky’ was our word of the day because we were putting the ball in play — but unfortunately going right to somebody.”
Burge drilled a line drive down the left field line for her first-ever home run in the fourth inning. She hustled to first base before looking up and clapping after rounding the bag to begin her trip to home plate, where her teammates waited to greet her. Burge then found her father, Larry, outside the visitor’s dugout.
She said he was the first person she wanted to see. He’s played an instrumental role in her softball career, working with her on hitting and fielding every night. He told her to keep improving, stressing the importance of staying confident. She smiled before recalling one of her favorite memories with him on the softball field.
“He hates this one,” Burge said, laughing.
When Burge was 6 or 7 years old, her father angered her with his instruction to keep her hands back while hitting. He was pitching to her during youth softball practice, and she responded with a line drive into his stomach.
Burge picked up dirt and rubbed it on him, telling her dad that he’d be OK. Pleased with the line drive, he told her, “Keep doing that, and you’ll be good.”
Burge hit another memorable line drive Friday — on her father’s birthday.
“He wants everybody to know he’s like 30, but he’s not 30,” Burge said with a laugh.
Burge didn’t know Henry was at the game until she saw her father after her home run. Since both Henry and teammate Haylee Hayward graduated, Burge has gone from role player to steady run producer. P-O coach Jim Gonder said the Lady Mounties have relied on contributions from multiple players this season and noted he expects Burge to produce like she did Friday.
The coach said she’s been consistent all season in the middle of the lineup.
“Early in the season, she started off hot and she stayed hot,” Gonder said. “So we’ll keep her there.”