High School Sports

High school softball: Burge, Peck propel Philipsburg-Osceola over Bishop McCort, into District 6 Class AA semifinals

For the second time in five days, a team from Philipsburg-Osceola ended one of Bishop McCort’s season.

After the 15th-seeded baseball team stunned the second-seeded Crimson Crushers on Thursday, it was the Lady Mounties’ turn to put a halt to the Lady Crushers’ season on Monday.

McKenzie Burge hit a pair of home runs to back Maggie Peck’s three-hit shutout, as P‑O — the second seed in the District 6 Class AA bracket — pulled away from a pesky Lady Crushers squad for a 9‑0 win.

The victory moved the Lady Mounties into Thursday’s semifinal round against Central.

Burge’s solo home run in the bottom of the first provided Peck with all the run support she’d need before belting a three-run shot in a six-run sixth inning.

“I’ve barely had two home runs in my life,” Burge said. “I knew I had two runners on (in the sixth), so I was just trying to hit a line drive. I never look to hit a home run. I just look to get on base.

“I was sitting at a 3-1 count, so I knew she still wanted that strike. I was ready to hit, and she gave me a pitch I liked.”

The Lady Mounties (19-2) broke out of a five-inning slump against McCort starter Jenna Gaunt, who held the potent P-O lineup to four hits in that span.

Gaunt couldn’t figure out the Lady Mounties a sixth time, however, as P-O ended the Lady Crushers’ season for the second straight year.

The McCort starter allowed four hits in the sixth and ended the day by allowing eight earned runs on eight hits. She walked three and struck out one.

“She had a really great spin on the ball,” Burge said of Gaunt. “Kudos to her, she’s a really great pitcher. She threw a really great game. I think, maybe, we were swinging at some pitches we weren’t supposed to, but kudos to her. She had a great arm.”

The Lady Crushers had their best opportunities against Peck in the first two innings, but came up empty on each attempt.

P-O catcher Kylie Thal caught Autumn Gossard wondering off third base too far when Gaunt broke for second on Peck’s offering.

Thal later thwarted another stolen base attempt, while Peck kept the Lady Crushers’ offense off the base paths. Peck retired 10 in a row at one point and faced just one hitter over the minimum in the last five innings.

“You set the tempo at the beginning of the game,” McCort head coach Les Gaunt said. “We had that runner get caught off of third there, and if that runner scores, you never know.

“We had a couple of running errors — mistakes to be honest with you — that gave (the runs) away. Against a good team like this, that’s the stuff you can’t do. You can’t leave runs out there or make those kinds of mistakes because you’ll pay for them.”

The Lady Crushers were coming off the first playoff win in school history, while P-O has two state titles under head coach Jim Gonder, who agreed that Thal’s throw was a pivotal part of the contest.

“I thought Kylie did a great job keeping them off-balance,” Gonder said. “It was really important (to keep them off the board because) once it snowballs, they start believing they can win and bad things happen toward the end of the game. Until we got to four runs, I thought that team had some opportunities.

“It magnifies (the play at third) a great deal. We had the right play called, and we got lucky.”