High school athletes don't always do what their coach tells them to do. Not because they aren't listening, but sometimes because the heat of the moment gets the best of them.
Philipsburg-Osceola sophomore catcher Carly Gonder had one of those moments in the bottom of the seventh inning at the Logan Elementary School Friday afternoon.
P-O and Greensburg Central Catholic were locked in a 2-2 tie when Gonder came to the plate with runners at first and third and only one out.
Mirror photo by Elizabeth Franks
Chelsea Rex embraces Carly Gonder, while Mackenzie Wilson joins the Lady Mounties’ celebration of their PIAA Class AA quarterfinal win on Friday. Gonder had the game-winning hit.
P-O coach Jim Gonder called time and told Carly, his niece, the plan. She was to swing and miss the first pitch while pinch runner Chelsea Brown tried to steal second. If a play was made on Brown, then perhaps the Lady Mounties could steal the winning run with Katie Carpin, who was on third.
Carly Gonder swung, but didn't miss.
Instead, she punched a base hit to right field, Carpin scored easily, and the Lady Mounties were on their way to the PIAA Class AA state softball semifinals with a 3-2 win.
"She [Brown] was stealing, and I was supposed to swing and miss," a grinning Carly Gonder said, almost apologetically. "I didn't. I hit it, and I was lucky it dropped in.
"It could have ended badly, but thank goodness, it didn't."
Coach Gonder also was able to laugh at the result.
"If she said she was supposed to swing and miss, she's telling the truth," coach Gonder admitted, chuckling.
P-O pitching ace Chelsea Rex cruised through the first six innings, giving up only two hits while striking out nine.
Her mound opponent, Greensburg CC freshman Anna Marie Gaiti, who showed an outstanding changeup, was almost as impressive. She fanned 10 and walked only one, but yielded a run-scoring single to Aisha Goss in the second and a solo homer to Katelynn Burge in the fourth.
"I thought she was gonna throw me a changeup," Burge said. "I was ready for anything and it just went. It wasn't a changeup, it was something fast."
P-O's sophomore third baseman cracked it over the left field fence for her third homer and a 2-0 lead.
Three outs from elimination, Greensburg pushed over two runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game at 2-all. Rex walked two and gave up a two-out single to Alie Perz that created the deadlock.
"You have to expect good teams are going to put something on you at some point, and they did," Coach Gonder said. "During the course of a game, someone is gonna boot a ball or have a brain cramp.
"It's more important what you do after that happens," he said. "You can get down or play harder, and the kids believed they could win."
Katie Carpin singled and moved to second on a wild pitch with one out in the P-O seventh. Goss reached on a fielder's choice when Central fielded her grounder and made an unsuccessful play on Carpin at third.
That set the stage for Carly Gonder's game-winning hit when she was supposed to swing and miss.
"It happens for a reason, and we're happy it worked out the way it did," Rex said. "I'm not ready for my year or softball career to be over."
The game was originally scheduled for Thursday at Mount Aloysius, but was postponed until Thursday because of heavy rain.
"The anticipation from yesterday of having to wait was tough," Rex said. "It definitely takes a toll, but I felt pretty good today. The seventh inning was a little shaky, but I was confident our offense would score."
Rex, who will play college softball at St. Francis, was one of five senior players who had to rush home for graduation ceremonies Thursday evening.
"I can't even ride home on the bus," Rex said. "I've got to hurry home and get ready.
"But, this [win] is definitely the highlight of my day," she said. "Softball means a lot more to me than almost anything."
Greensburg CC assistant coach Gary Ciarimboli was a gracious loser.
"I thought we had them when we got two [in the top of the seventh]," Ciarimboli said. "But, credit them. They did what they had to do to win. That's why they are where they are and who they are.
"Someone's got to lose, and someone's got to win. Give them credit. Sweet team. Sweet team."
Game notes: WPIAL runner-up Greensburg CC finished with a 15-6 record. ... Now 23-1, P-O will face WPIAL champion Burrell on Monday at 4 p.m. at Legion Park in Hollidaysburg. ... District 6 Class AAA champion Bellefonte also will play at Legion Park on Monday at 2 p.m.
GREENSBURG CENTRAL CATHOLIC (2): Ingel ss 301, Daigle 2b 300, Adsey c 210, A. Mellinger 300, Hickey 3b 210, Perz 1b 302, Benjamin dp 300, Gaiti p 000, Lang lf 200, K. Mellinger rf 200. Totals - 23-2-3.
PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA (3): Gonder c 401, Arnold 1b 200, Wilson ss 300, Rex p 200, Burge 3b 322, Knepp rf 200, Harpster cf 301, Carpin lf 311, Goss dp 301, Myers 2b 000, Brown pr 000. Totals -25-3-6.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Greensburg CC000 000 2-2 3 2
Philipsburg-Osceola010 100 1-3 6 2
E-Adsey, Gaiti, Wilson, Knepp. HR - Burge. RBI-Perz, Burge, Gonder.
Greensburg Central Catholic
Gaiti (L) 6 1/3 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 10 SO, 1 BB
Rex (W) 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 9 SO, 2 BB
Records: Greensburg Central Catholic (15-6); Philipsburg-Osceola (23-1).