It was a chance to play one more game with high school pride, to hit the field in front of family and friends.
It also was a time to make friends with the people who used to be the enemy — at least in athletic competition.
Rivals from Bald Eagle Area, Philipsburg-Osceola and Bellefonte were all laughing together in the same dugout, cheering each other on the field.
“It was awesome,” said BEA’s Dallis Dillon, who scored a run Wednesday night. “It’s weird because I never really ever talk to them, but they’re great girls and it was such a great experience because they love softball just as much as I do.”
It was echoed by P-O’s Haylee Hayward.
“We were all talking about, what if Bald Eagle and P-O, whatever, were combined,” Hayward said. “That would be awesome. That would be the coolest thing ever. It’s really fun to play with the girls you always play against.”
The high school sports season came to an end at Beard Field on Wednesday night with a pair of games in the Pennsylvania Softball Coaches Association District 6 Hall of Fame Game. A collection of District 6 all-stars won 5-2 against District 4 in the second game of the night after the teams played to a 3-3 tie in the opener.
The first game was halted by a 90-minute time limit.
District 6 was off and running in the first inning of the second game when Dillon manufactured a run with her speed — and without a hit for the team. She walked, stole second, reached third when the throw sailed into the outfield, and scored on a ground out by Hayward.
“Coach gave me the steal, (error), got to go to three — it was awesome,” said Dillon, who will attend Lock Haven this fall, studying to be a physician’s assistant.
Central Mountain’s Kimmie Coder plated two more runs in the fourth inning with a single, with Hayward scoring after leading off with a double, followed by Bellefonte’s Rachel Bernier. Bernier was a courtesy runner for winning pitcher Hannah Ruby of Mifflin County, who had singled.
BEA’s Morgan Nyman singled and scored in the fifth on a single by Central Mountain’s Sarah Reeder. Coder singled and scored the final run in the sixth on a single by Morgan Peters, of BEA.
District 4 had runners on base in every inning but only managed runs on a third-inning sacrifice fly by Mackenzie Klinger of Central Columbia and a fourth-inning RBI fielder’s choice by Molly Williams of Bloomsburg.
The final out for District 6 in the finale was made by Alyssa Shedlock, who batted despite suffering a knee injury last weekend in a travel softball game. She will find out Friday the extent of the injury, but she was glad she got to bat and experience the festivities.
“I was pretty bummed that I wasn’t going to get to play with these girls,” said Shedlock, who will play for Juniata next season. “I’ve been with them since I was young. But I was really happy they let me get in for one at-bat.”
State College’s Hannah Shields stepped into the circle for three innings of relief in both games, striking out two and giving up two hits and no walks in the opener and allowing three singles with no runs, walks or strikeouts in the nightcap.
“I’ve played in a lot of showcase tournaments where you meet your players right then and there, so you just work with what you’ve got,” Shields said. “I enjoyed it. It was probably the best experience.”
Shields also ripped a two-run double to force the tie in the fifth inning. The hit scored Mount Union’s Ryleah Woodward, who had singled, and Bellefonte’s Rachel Bernier, who had walked.
Bellwood-Antis’ Caroline Showalter, who was 3 for 3, doubled in the second inning, scoring on a sacrifice fly by teammate Laycee Clark for the other District 6 run.
A two-run double by Juneil Ritter of Hughesville in the third inning and an RBI ground out by Crisena Harer of Montgomery in the second accounted for the District 4 runs.
The first game was rough on pitchers. By the first pitch of the second inning, starting pitchers on both teams were hit by line drives. Meanwhile, District 6 starting pitcher Taylor Shildt, of Bellwood-Antis, reached base on an infield single in the bottom of the first — lined off pitcher Jayla Gee’s arm — but on an attempted steal of second injured her knee and had to be carried from the field.
It was a tough start to the night, but there were still plenty of happy experiences.
“I made some new friends,” said Shields, who is headed to Delaware State. “We’re here just to have fun.”
Hall of Fame
Between games, Districts 4 and 6 honored Hall of Fame classes.
The District 6 class was well-represented by Centre County with women who helped their respective programs to PIAA titles and plenty of deep runs in the postseason.
Amanda Arnold, Chelsea Rex and Mackenzie Wilson were inducted from Philipsburg-Osceola, while Bald Eagle Area was represented by Taylor Parsons and Jasa Mitchell. Bellefonte saw Danielle Gamola earn induction.
Also making the list were Bethany Kopchik, Jada Larsen and Rebecca Kephart of West Branch.
In addition, former CDT Sports Editor Ron Bracken was inducted into his fifth Hall of Fame — with the other four for wrestling.
District 6 also honored P-O coach Jim Gonder for earning his 600th career win during this past season.