High School Sports

High school softball: Bald Eagle Area focuses in on PIAA opener against Seton La Salle

Bald Eagle Area coach Curt Heverly has the Lady Eagles back in the PIAA tournament for the first time since 2009. BEA plays Seton La Salle in its Class AA opener on Monday at Nittany Lion Softball Park at 7 p.m.
Bald Eagle Area coach Curt Heverly has the Lady Eagles back in the PIAA tournament for the first time since 2009. BEA plays Seton La Salle in its Class AA opener on Monday at Nittany Lion Softball Park at 7 p.m. CDT file photo

First came the thrill of winning a Mountain League title.

Then, it was the emotion and drama of capturing the District 6 Class AA title before a standing-room only crowd.

Now, the Bald Eagle Area softball team is trying to focus on the ultimate prize, the PIAA Tournament. The Lady Eagles (19-4) face Seton La Salle (13-3) at 7 p.m. Monday at Penn State’s Nittany Lion Softball Park.

After Wednesday’s 5-4, eight-inning triumph against Philipsburg-Osceola in the district title game at Beard Field, the Lady Eagles admit it’s been a wild couple of days. Handshakes and high-fives have been the norm in Wingate.

As good as all of the accolades have been, they also can make preparing for the PIAA Tournament difficult.

“We’ve been trying to get our heads back straight,” pitcher Makennah Dyke said. “We got a little too excited about (Wednesday’s) game.”

“It’s kind of like, ‘We won districts, but we’ve got to be moving on,’” catcher Morgan Nyman said. “Coach calls it our third season.”

But the Lady Eagles don’t want to forget everything from that game.

“You’ve still got to look at that and work on things that we did wrong to get better,” said Olivia Andrews, who doubled and scored the winning run against P-O. “But, it’s a new game.”

BEA has been playing its game pretty well in the postseason. The Lady Eagles have used a mixture of timely hitting, solid pitching and defense and aggressive baserunning in its four postseason triumphs.

“When we play our style, we roll,” coach Curt Heverly said. “It’s a little bit more of a baseball mentality that I bring to it. Use your speed and take the extra base. I believe in the small game, too. But if you bunt them up, you’ve got to hit.”

Heverly has been getting hits from up and down his lineup, but the bottom of the order has been especially productive. Hitters 6-9 had seven hits, scored four runs and drove in all five against P-O.

“Even if someone is down in the lineup, the rest of us can pick them up,” said Nyman, the team’s No. 9 hitter. “We struggled a little bit the other night at the top, but the bottom picked it up. And then the top came in. We came together towards the end.”

“We have a really good hitting team,” added Makenzie Proctor, who has been hitting in the seventh spot. “Everyone has worked so hard to get to this point and it’s great to see everyone put it out on the field.”

Heverly isn’t ruling out the order could change before Monday.

“We might tweak that a little bit,” he said. “The girls want to tweak it. … We can do that. We’re not an easy out anywhere”

One thing he won’t change is who is in the circle. Dyke has been a “bulldog” this season.

“She’s the core,” Heverly said. “She’s the reason we’re here. I’m so happy for her. She refuses to quit and she’s out there giving us everything she has.”

Dyke (14-3) said she’ll be ready Monday. “As long as I keep my emotions under control, I should be good,” the senior said.

Heverly knows emotion is a key because one flat game in the PIAA Tournament against a team like Seton La Salle and the season is done.

“I got quite a bit of information on this group and they are a pretty decent little team,” he said of the Lady Rebels. “At this level if you go in there and mess up, it’s not going to be a good day for you.”

Seton La Salle is led by hard-throwing junior Lauren Zola, who struck out 13 and allowed four hits as the Lady Rebels pounded last season’s PIAA runner-up Riverside 10-1 in the second round of the WPIAL Tournament.

Seton La Salle also suffered a 10-1 loss to Deer Lakes in the WPIAL semifinals, but bounced back to beat Keystone Oaks 3-2 in a game halted by rain to take third place.

Second baseman Lexi Mercuri and center fielder Dani Dadig have had big hits in the postseason.

The Lady Eagles are looking forward to their first PIAA game since the school won the 2009 title.

“This is the first time we have been in this situation,” shortstop Haley Giedroc said. “It doesn’t feel real yet.”