According to Philipsburg-Osceola softball coach Jim Gonder, Hannah Thompson is perhaps the unluckiest hitter on his team.
At least, she used to be.
Thompson’s luck changed in the bottom of the seventh inning of Wednesday’s Mountain League battle between the Lady Mounties and Bellefonte. With her team trailing 6-4 with two on and one out, Thompson lined a 1-0 pitch from Bellefonte’s Tara Baney over the left field fence to give P-O a 7-6, walk-off win over the Lady Red Raiders.
It was the first home run of the year for Thompson, and it capped an uphill climb for P-O, which never had the lead until Thompson’s shot.
“I wasn’t really thinking about a home run. I just focused on hitting the ball,” Thompson said. “I just wanted to go up there and do my job. It felt good, but I didn’t know for sure it was out. Then it felt really good.”
But Thompson wasn’t P-O’s primary power source Wednesday. That title belonged to Madison Lucas, who homered twice to center field for her fourth and fifth homers of the season.
“I’ve hit three home runs off her,” said Lucas, who’s currently hitting .524. “I’m pretty excited. It (the home run power) just started this year. It shows that if you work hard enough, it pays off.”
Added Gonder: “She hits the ball hard a lot. She’s our leading hitter; she’s not a secret anymore.”
Before P-O’s power-by-committee approach, Bellefonte wasted no time getting to Lady Mounties starter Kam Harris. The first two hitters in the lineup, Baney and Alexis Wetzler, smacked singles and wound up scoring on a single by Lissi Przybys and a fielder’s choice by Emma DeHaas.
A single by Baney — who had three hits — followed by an outfield error and a fielder’s choice by Rianna Trexler put Bellefonte up 3-0 heading into the bottom of the third, when Thompson hit a two-out single and Lucas homered over the fence in center.
The Lady Mounties tied the game in the fourth after Jayde Burge singled, took third on a double by Kylie Thal and scored on Sadie Granville’s infield out.
Bellefonte then snapped the stalemate in the fifth when Baney led off with a single, and a pair of P-O errors and a fielder’s choice put the Lady Raiders up 6-3.
Lucas wrapped her second home run to center to lead off the sixth to make it 6-4 and set the stage for the seventh.
Annie Kost started the inning for P-O with a single. One out later, Maggie Peck — who got the win in relief of Harris — doubled for her 100th career hit, putting runners at second and third for Thompson.
“Overlooked in all of this is Annie getting that hit,” Gonder said. “If she doesn’t get that hit, this could all have ended differently. She had a heck of an at-bat, and that got us to Hannah.”
Heading into the game, Bellefonte was leading the Mountain League with a 9-1 record while P-O and Central were tied with 8-2 records.
“This was just what you would expect in a Mountain League game,” Lady Raider coach Fred Caldwell said. “Philipsburg is good. We didn’t expect them to go quietly. We had the lead until the last pitch.
“We talked about the fences being a little shorter here, and the ball tends to fly out of here. But to their credit, they took advantage of it. But this game is similar to what we will see in the playoffs. It will make us better.”