High School Sports

Philipsburg-Osceola eases to district softball quarterfinal victory


Like water torture, the top-seeded Philipsburg-Osceola softball team slowly and methodically pounded No. 9 seed Westmont Hilltop into submission on Monday afternoon, posting a 9-0 victory in a District 6 Class AA softball quarterfinal game.

The Lady Mounties rocked two Lady Hilltopper pitchers for 11 hits, seven of them doubles and one a home run, as they posted their 19th win of the season against two losses.

Batterymates Kylie Thal and Kam Harris had a pair of doubles apiece and Chelsey Henry homered for P-O as it scored eight runs in the first four innings to open up an 8-0 lead.

Mountie coach Jim Gonder said he cautioned his team not to take the ninth-seeded Lady Hilltoppers for granted.

“You try to keep the kids as focused as you can,” he said. “It’s the playoffs and you feel as though everyone is playing well. But we had good defense and timely hitting and that’s a good recipe. I thought we played well on defense and once we got a couple of runs in the first, with our pitching, I felt confident.”

P-O struck for three runs in the first as Thal and Haylee Hayward had back-to-back doubles to drive in two runs and a third scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Kendra Cairns that gave the lead to Harris, who worked four innings and allowed four hits before giving way to Maggie Peck in the fifth. Harris pitched out of trouble twice as the Lady Hilltoppers loaded the bases in third and fourth and got nothing.

“Kam wasn’t as sharp as she typically is,” Gonder said. “But we’ve used that combination (Harris and Peck) four or five times this year and it’s been effective for us. We like to start with Kam but we’re not afraid to bring Maggie in. But Kam needed to be in a pressure game like this where it’s lose and go home.”

P-O added two runs in the second as Peck singled, took second on a perfect sacrifice by Thal and scored on an error. Henry followed with a homer to left-center to make it 5-0.

Consecutive doubles by Harris, Burge and Madison Lucas accounted for two more runs in the fourth and a double by Thal and a single by Hayward gave P-O its final run in the fifth.

P-O will take on Ligonier Valley, a 3-1 winner against Forest Hills, at the Curtis Park Softball Complex on Thursday with the winner moving to the district title game at Penn State’s Beard Field on June 1.