Philipsburg-Osceola’s “team mom” can’t take much more of this.
“Every time we play one of these games I feel like I’ve had a heart attack,” said senior Chelsey Henry, the Lady Mounties’ designated team mom, after Sadie Granville made a highlight reel catch.
The snag helped lock down a 3-2, 10-inning nail-biter over Bellefonte at O’Leary Field on Tuesday.
“They call me the team mom because I pick everyone up when they’re down,” Henry said. “And when I’m down they’re the wind beneath my wings.”
After losing to Bellefonte 7-2 a week ago and giving up 15 hits, the Lady Mounties got even in a battle that went down to the international tie-breaker.
And it was Henry and Granville who decided it.
Haylee Hayward started the 10th inning at second base as the tie-breaker rule requires, and Henry followed with a double into the left field corner to score the go-ahead run. P-O stranded runners at second and third as Rachel Bernier, on in relief of Tara Baney, avoided further damage with a pop-up and a comebacker to end the inning.
“I like being in those situations. Who doesn’t,” Henry said. “I knew if I got a pitch in my zone it was gone. We’re taught to go up there looking for something in our zone.”
But Bellefonte threatened in its half of the 10th that started with Jenna Ault on second. Bernier sacrificed her to third, but Taylore Maurer popped out to the catcher before Jordan Rockey drew a walk to put runners at the corners with two out.
On a full count, Wetzler hit a wicked line drive that appeared headed for the right-center gap only to have Granville leap as high as she could and catch the ball in the web of her glove to preserve the win.
“It’s funny, on the pitch before that play I was hoping they would hit it to me,” said Granville, a defensive specialist who was a starter on the P-O volleyball team. “It’s awesome how it happened. As soon as I heard it hit my glove I knew the game was over.”
Granville is one of the surprise stories for the Lady Mounties, who are now 13-2.
“At the beginning of the year she wasn’t even on my radar,” said P-O coach Jim Gonder. “I don’t think she has played softball since the sixth grade. Kylie Thal (P-O’s catcher) talked her into coming out. It’s amazing how athletic she is. She’s a heck of a volleyball player. On that last play I thought they had a hit, then she jumped and I saw the ball in her glove and I was like, ‘Holy smoke.’ She just keeps getting better and better.”
“Thank God she plays volleyball,” Henry said.
It was one of several defensive gems turned in by the Lady Mounties. Bellefonte, on the other hand, struggled on defense, committing six errors, three in the fourth inning to allow P-O to tie the game.
The Lady Raiders touched P-O freshman starter Kam Harris for a pair of runs in the third as Rockey opened the inning with a double into the left-center gap. Wetzler followed with a single, and Rockey scored on an overthrow at the plate, allowing Wetzler to go to third. She scored on Ang Capparelle’s infield out.
In the top of the fourth P-O got a leadoff single from Hayward. She stole second and after Henry flied out to left, Harris laid down a sacrifice bunt and was safe when the ball was thrown away allowing Hayward to score. A pair of throwing errors on subsequent sacrifice bunt attempts allowed courtesy runner Annie Kos to score the tying run.
“It was smart on his part,” Lady Red Raiders coach Fred Caldwell said of Gonder’s small ball tactics. “He forced us to make plays and we definitely struggled on defense. If we hadn’t allowed them to score in that inning this game might not have gone 10 innings. The last time we played them we had something like 15 hits. We didn’t have anywhere near that today. Harris did a great job. She was very composed. She didn’t get rattled.”
“(Tara) Baney’s pretty good so we felt like we had to bunt and make them make mistakes,” Gonder said. “We wanted to put the pressure on them.”
Meanwhile, Harris handcuffed the Bellefonte hitters, allowing only three hits and striking out eight including four in the last three innings.
“She pitched an outstanding game,” Gonder said of the freshman. “She was in control of that game. I thought she got stronger as the game went along.”
Harris retired 13 in a row from the third through the seventh. At the same time Bellefonte was forced to go to reliever Rachel Bernier when Baney left the game after seven innings with an injury.
“She was in some discomfort but she wanted to go back in,” Caldwell said. “But we made the decision to take her out. I told her we were going to need her two or three weeks from now (in the playoffs).”
Baney had allowed only three hits before leaving the game, the same number she allowed in the 7-2 win last week. That was the second loss in two days for P-O.
Since then the Lady Mounties have gone on a four-game winning streak, knocking off unbeaten Moniteau in the Lady Mountaineer Tournament Saturday and then handing unbeaten Bellwood-antis its first loss on Monday.
“After those two losses last week the girls were a little down,” Gonder said. “They just decided we had to get better. At that point I thought it was 50-50 that we could go 0-7 or 0-8. But these girls gutted out some great wins for us.”
None were more dramatic, however, than Tuesday’s.
“I’m a proud momma,” Henry said.