High School Sports

High School softball: Philipsburg-Osceola clinches Mountain League title with rout of Central

It’s not often you see a seven-run play in softball. Practically never, actually.

But in Monday’s game between Mountain League softball powers Philipsburg-Osceola and Central, one play led to seven Lady Mountie runs in a 13-4 romp that gave P-O another Mountain League championship.

Central had grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Taylor McKnight lined a two-run bullet off the scoreboard in center field.

The Lady Mounties answered, taking advantage of some wildness by sophomore pitcher Brooke Albright and the bizarre play. Albright issued a pair of walks around a one-out single by Carly Gonder before fanning Alyssa Shedlock, leaving the bases loaded for Haley Frank. She lofted a fly into the gap in right-center which Cassidi Barnes appeared to have measured. Instead, she slipped and fell and the ball landed roughly two feet from her outstretched glove, clearing the bases. A double by Kate Burge scored Frank and following a walk to McKenzie Burge, Abby Showers drilled a line drive homer over the fence in dead center to put P-O on top 7-2.

“Seven runs on one play. You don’t see many of those,” quipped P-O coach Jim Gonder. “Against a good team, like we are, if you give us an extra out we should make you pay for it.”

Central coach Dale Walters singled out the play as the difference in the game.

“We should have gotten out of that inning with no runs scored and us up 2-0,” he said. “P-O is such a good team they don’t need any extra help. She (Barnes) just slipped. It’s unfortunate but it completely changed the game. We went from giving up no runs to giving up seven.”

P-O threatened to blow the game wide open with a four-run fourth on singles by McKenzie Burge and Showers, a pair of walks and a single by Carly Gonder for four more runs, chasing Albright, who started in place of Kylie Gunnett, Central’s normal starter. Albright threw 50 pitches in the second inning and 104 in her four innings of work.

“Our plan was to hopefully stay close and then use Gunnett in the second half of the game,” Walters said. “Hopefully, we’ll meet P-O in the playoffs so there was no sense in giving them more at-bats off Kylie.”

Central narrowed the P-O lead in the sixth when Taylor Garman got aboard on a fielder’s choice and scored on McKnight’s second homer of the game, this one to left-center to make it 11-4.

But P-O matched that in the sixth on a double by Carly Gonder, a triple to the fence in right-center by Megan Bainey and a run-scoring single by Chelsea Brown.

P-O pounded two Central pitchers for 13 hits while Kate Burge held the Lady Dragons to five hits while walking none and striking out four.

“For whatever reason, we have not been able to hit Kate,” Walters said. “She doesn’t seem to be doing anything different than anyone else but we haven’t been able to hit her. We came up here thinking we’d have to score more than 11 runs because no matter who was pitching we knew they were going to hit. And we just didn’t get the job done with the bats. We’ve been averaging 9.5 runs per game, we have almost 20 home runs, everyone on the team is hitting over .300 so it’s not out of reach for us to score 11 runs. We can score a lot of runs.”

Just not seven on one play.