When the Philipsburg-Osceola baseball team boards its bus for a road game, the fun begins.
The Mounties cue up their playlist and blast their music.
There’s plenty of country songs — Toby Keith is a favorite — but there’s a little Pearl Jam mixed in for coach Doug Sankey. P-O catcher Derek Shaw said Big & Rich’s “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” is the team’s go-to song. That, or “Merica” by Earl Dibbles Jr.
“We sing along and have a lot of fun,” Shaw said.
The Mounties are having a lot of fun on the field, too, outscoring their opponents 65-5 during a 7-0 start.
Philipsburg-Osceola will look to stay undefeated when it takes on Clearfield on the road Monday.
It’s been an impressive turnaround for the Mounties after enduring three straight losing seasons.
The Mounties’ success starts on the mound — Gage Coudriet, Josh Earnest and Isaac Knepp have combined to allow two earned runs in 41 innings, good for a staff ERA of 0.34. They’ve thrown complete games in all seven wins, and they’ve pitched four shutouts.
Philipsburg-Osceola’s lineup has contributed to four wins by mercy rule. The Mounties boast a team batting average of .344, sparked by Earnest, who is hitting .556. Sankey said No. 3-hitter Logan Williamson (.389; zero extra base hits) and cleanup hitter Knepp (.280) aren’t happy with their performance at the plate right now, but P-O is still averaging a little more than nine runs per game.
In addition to the stellar pitching and steady offensive production, Sankey said players have been pushing each other at practice.
“I think that’s been a big reason for our success,” Sankey said. “I think some years, the kids look around and not take it for granted, but they pretty much know they’re going to be in the lineup.”
During those years, Sankey said there were 11 players at practice.
This season, the Mounties have more depth as they’re practicing with 18. And practices have been intense, with the younger players following the example set by the veterans.
They want to come to practice every day and work hard. They listen to those who have been here before and experienced the bad times.
P-O senior catcher Derek Shaw
“They want to come to practice every day and work hard,” said Shaw, a senior. “They listen to those who have been here before and experienced the bad times.”
They put in extra work as well.
Immediately after a win over Penns Valley, freshman third baseman Trey Shaw was taking ground balls after a tough day in the field.
Sankey said the Shaw brothers are always working out together on their own. Williamson goes home and eats dinner after practices before returning to the field for more batting practice with his father. Coudriet, Cam Domblisky and Mike Askey are close friends and can often be found at the YMCA batting cages.
It’s translated to wins, making the team’s bus rides enjoyable for the first time in four years.
Before the first road game, Sankey told his players to change their routine. Sankey pointed out the Mounties didn’t have much success on the road in other sports. Sitting on the bus quietly and thinking about the game didn’t work last season.
He suggested playing music, something the 2003 team did.
“That was back when we had the radio with the batteries,” Sankey said with a laugh. “Old school. Tape player.”
So the team has played music on the bus this season.
“These guys have those wireless Beats by Dre (speakers) that are like $200 now,” Sankey said. “It’s ridiculous. But they put it in a bucket, an empty baseball bucket, so it amplifies the sound.”
From 2013-15 — a stretch that saw Philipsburg-Osceola go 18-41 — players put headphones on and listened to their own music.
After losses, they sat in silence on the bus rides home.
“We weren’t allowed to talk,” said Shaw, a four-year starter.
This year, the Mounties are singing along to their playlist on the way to games and on the way home.
They haven’t lost yet, either.
Said Knepp: “It’s a ton of fun.”