PHILIPSBURG - The Philipsburg-Osceola softball team began its District 6 Class AA title defense in workmanlike fashion on Thursday in Philipsburg, and that's exactly how head coach Jim Gonder likes it.
The Lady Mounties smacked 10 hits against Cambria Heights pitcher Cori James, including a bases-clearing triple from freshman Abby Showers, while their pitcher Kate Burge didn't yield any in narrowly missing a perfect game in an opening-round win over the 14th-seeded Lady Highlanders.
P-O, the third seed, improved to 17-4 after a 15-0 win in four innings.
"Our hitters hit the ball hard," Gonder said. "We've got to keep getting better and just take them one game at a time. We're playing better. We're getting some production, we're scoring more runs and that's something I was concerned with the first three quarters of the season."
Showers' triple was the straw that broke the Lady Highlanders' backs, as it pushed P-O's advantage to 13-0 in the bottom of the third inning.
After being held off the board in the first, the Lady Mounties got their offense going with eight in the second and didn't look back.
Makenzie Burge led P-O's attack with a 3-for-3 effort at the plate, which included a pair of two-run singles.
"I just think a lefty in the No. 2 spot presents some problems for the defense," Gonder said of moving Burge up in the order. "Abby has been so hot, we thought it'd be a good move because Makenzie can drag bunt, she can slap, she can do the things lefties can do. If they do move up, she can drive the ball by you."
While the Lady Mounties had James pegged, Cambria Heights couldn't say the same against Kate Burge.
The only blemish in an otherwise spotless effort was an error in the top of the fourth inning. Burge finished the contest with six strikeouts.
"We're a young team with a freshman pitcher," Cambria Heights coach Eric White said. "It's a work in progress. All we can do is chip away at it. We don't lose any seniors, so we'll be back.
"I wouldn't have [the first-round draw] any other way. It shows our girls where we're at and where we need to be."
Showers ended the day with a pair of hits to her credit, while Carly Gonder scored three runs.
The Lady Mounties return to action Monday when they entertain Marion Center.
The Lady Highlanders ended their season at 8-9.
CAMBRIA HEIGHTS (0): Lewis lf 2000, James p 2000, Kosicki 1b 2000, Wills ss 2000, Link c 1000, Miller cf 1000, Cordell 2b 1000, Slovikovsky 3b 1000, McCann dp 1000, Bills rf (flex) 0000. Totals: 13-0-0-0.
PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA (15): Gonder c 431, M. Burge 1b 323, Showers ss 322, K. Burge p 311, Goss lf 311, Frank 3b 210, Brown pr-rf 010, Williamson dp 111, Wisor rf 311, Meersand 3b 000, Carpin cf 120, Myers 2b (flex) 000. Totals: 23-15-10.
Score by Innings
Cambria Heights000 0XX X- 0 0 3
Philipsburg-Osceola085 2XX X-15 10 1
E-Slovikovsky, James, Wills; Meersand. LOB-Cambria Heights 1, P-O 6. DP-Cambria Heights. 3B-Showers. RBI-M. Burge 4, SHowers 3, K. Burge 2, Goss, Williamson, Wisor. SAC-Williamson. SB-Kosicki; Meersand 2. WP-James 3. PB-Link 1.
Cambria Heights: James-3+ IP, 10 H, 15 R, 11 ER, 5 BB, 2 SO.
P-O: K. Burge-4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 SO.
WP-K. Burge. LP-James.