UNIVERSITY PARK - Philipsburg-Osceola senior Katie Carpin says she's happy batting from the No. 9 spot in the lineup.
If she keeps hitting like she did in the Lady Mounties' 13-5 win over Central in the District 6 Class AA Championship Wednesday night at Beard Field at Nittany Lion Softball Park, she might be moving up in the order.
Carpin went 3-for-3, including two two-run doubles in her first two at-bats.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
P-O’s Kate Burge delivers a pitch against Central in the title game.
"The whole season I pretty much bunted," Carpin said. "I don't think they were expecting any power whatsoever."
Asked if she expected it from herself, Carpin laughed and said, "No. I don't know if that's bad to say, but no. I've been working really hard, and I wanted that, but I didn't think it would come this quick. The last time we played Central, I just started to get my stance together, so I felt confident coming in. I wasn't expecting to do this well. I wanted to, but I wasn't expecting it."
The district title was P-O's 10th overall and third in a row. With hitting and scoring problems in the first half of the season, this was probably the most unlikely of the program's titles.
"We preach that we want to get better as the year goes on and play our best ball this time of year," P-O coach Jim Gonder said. "We busted out tonight. I thought the bottom of the lineup did an unbelievable job. We're real excited."
"It feels awesome," Carpin said. "It feels even better because it's my last year."
"I've been working for this since I was 8 years old," said junior pitcher Kate Burge, who started at third base last year as Chelsea Rex was pitching P-O to a state title, "and I finally got it. I'm so happy."
The teams will now get ready for the first round of the PIAA playoffs on Monday. P-O (20-4) will return to Penn State on Monday to play the District 7 third-placer. Central (17-6) will likely have to travel to face the winner of the District 8 and District 9 champion.
P-O knocked Kylie Gunnett out of the game in the fifth inning after scoring 11 runs on nine hits and working five walks off of her.
"They hit, and we didn't," Central coach Dale Walters said. "I think we struggled with control today, and we got behind in the count so many times. We had to end up laying it in there and just trying to get a strike."
Burge, who finished with a three-hitter, had her own problems in the third inning as Central scored five runs on only two hits to take a 5-2 lead. She hit the first two batters, Kassidy Snyder and Janine Snyder, later walked Ashley Smith with the bases loaded and uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Taylor McKnight to score.
"I mentally broke down," Burge said. "Stuff was getting into my head. The umpires were getting into my head. They gave me a new ball. [Catcher] Carly [Gonder] kept telling me I could do it. My whole team was there, and I could hear them, and I usually don't hear them when I'm pitching. But I heard everyone telling me that I could do it."
P-O, however, responded with five runs in the bottom of the third, three in the fourth and three in the fifth. In addition to Carpin, Haley Frank went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, and McKenzie Burge and Aisha Goss had two hits apiece.
The margin of victory was a big change from the first two games, which the teams split. Central won the first game, 6-4, and P-O won the second, 6-5.
"We just realized it's on a bigger stage," Carpin said, "and we really needed to produce and compete for the medal. We're just trying to go harder and harder to get it."
"We're meshing so well as a team right now," Burge said.
Central (5): M. Snyder 2b 311, Garman c 400, Smith 3b 311, McKnight ss 210, Blattenberger cf 300, Gunnett p 301, Barnes cr 000, Albright p 000, Mock rf 300, K. Snyder 1b 210, J. Snyder lf 210. Totals: 25-5-3.
Philipsburg-Osceola (13): Gonder c 400, M. Burge 1b 312, Showers ss 421, K. Burge p 200, Meersand cr 020, Goss lf 422, Frank 3b 433, Williamson dp 211, Bainey pr 010, Brown rf 300, Wisor ph 100, Carpin cf 313, Myers 2b 000. Totals: 30-13-12.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Central005 000 0-5 3 2
Philipsburg-Osceola025 330 X-13 12 1
E-Mock, M. Snyder; Myers. 2B-Smith; Carpin 2, Goss. RBI-Gunnett 2, Smith, McKnight; Carpin 4, Frank 3, Showers 2, Williamson 2, Wisor. SAC-Gonder. SB-M. Snyder; M. Burge. LOB-Central 3, Philipsburg-Osceola 6. HBP-K. Snyder, J. Snyder.
Central: Gunnett (L)-4 IP (pitched to 1 batter in 5th), 9 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 5 BB, 1 SO; Albright-2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO.
Philipsburg-Osceola: K. Burge (W)-7 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO.
Records: Central (17-6); Philipsburg-Osceola (20-4).