LORETTO - Philipsburg-Osceola High School has had more than its share of success in girls softball in recent years, and one of the reasons is the Lady Mounties always have a solid pitcher.
This year, sophomore Chelsey Henry has done the bulk of the pitching for veteran coach Jim Gonder with late-season help from freshman Maggie Peck.
Henry gave up a lead-off homer to Tayvin Rousseau and WPIAL champion Beaver went on to score three runs in the top of the first inning Thursday at Saint Francis University.
Henry didn't let her poor start on the mound affect her hitting, though, as she smacked a 2-run homer in the bottom of the first as the Mounties scored four times.
Gonder turned to Peck in the top of the second inning and the freshman right-hander shut the door on Beaver the rest of the game and P-O posted a 9-6 victory to advance to the PIAA Class AA semifinals next Monday.
"This feels really great because I knew if we won we would get a chance in the semifinals," Peck said after nailing down the win. "I just needed to come out and perform for the team."
And perform, she did.
Beaver tied the game at 4-4 with a run in the third, but then Peck silenced the Bobcats until the seventh. While the Mounties were using the hot hitting of Haley Frank, Kenzie Burge and Haylee Hayward to build a 9-4 lead, Peck retired 12 straight batters from the fourth till the seventh.
After the first two batters were set down in the seventh, Beaver exploded for three hits and a walk to make it 9-6. With runners at first and second, Bella Valent drilled another hit to center. But, when Halee Champ tried to score from second, she was cut down at the plate on a perfect relay from P-O center fielder Megan Bainey to Peck to catcher Frank to end the game.
"I am getting more comfortable (pitching)," Peck, surrounded by reporters, said. "I understand how if you lose, you're out and don't get a second chance.
"Throughout the game I was pretty calm. At the end, obviously, I knew we needed only one more out," she said, laughing, "so it was nice to get the last one."
Because they have a potent offensive lineup, the Mounties didn't panic after Beaver's fast start.
"It frightened me a little," Peck admitted, "but I knew it was only the first inning. There was a lot of game to be played."
"I said 'let's minimize the damage,'" Gonder said of the three-run first by Beaver. "Then, we got to bat and Haley Frank's at-bat, where she fouled off a lot of pitches before getting a hit, was the momentum changer. After Henry's bomb, we were up 4-3 and then you bring in the freshman (Peck), and she did an outstanding job."
Frank had a perfect 4-for-4 day at the plate and scored three runs, Burge had two doubles and a single, drove in a pair and scored twice and Hayward belted two doubles and knocked in four.
"We hit the ball well," Gonder understated.
"That's a good team," Beaver coach Butch Russo said after his WPIAL champs lost for the first time in 18 games. "They hit the ball very well and we knew that coming in.
"In the same respect, we had our opportunities, but we just didn't put them together."
Now 21-5, P-O will face district foe Bald Eagle Area in the semifinals Monday. The teams have met three times this season with BEA holding a 2-1 edge, including a 5-4, eight-inning win in the D6-AA final.
BEAVER (6): Rousseau c 411, J. Kondracki 3b 422, Forkasovsky p 432, Champ ss 201, A. Kondracki 1b 402, Valent lf 301, Justice 2b 300, Glass cf 302, Weber dp 200, Safino ph 100, Jusino rf 000. Totals - 30-6-11.
PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA (9): Showers ss 410, Frank c 434, Burge 1b 423, Hayward 3b 312, Henry p-rf 311, Peck 2b-p 200, Bainey cf 300, Kost rf-2b 300, Wagner lf 110. Totals - 27-9-10.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Beaver301 000 2-6 11 1
Philipsburg-Osceola400 302 X-9 10 1
E-Henry, Champ. 2B-Champ, Valent, Burge 2, Hayward 2. 3B-Forkasovsky. HR-Rousseau, Henry. RBI-Hayward 4, Burge 2, Henry 2, Rousseau, Champ, A. Kondracki 3.
Beaver PITCHING IP H R ER BB SO
Forkasovsky (L) 6 10 9 7 3 5
P-O PITCHING IP H R ER BB SO
Henry 1 3 3 1 0 1
Peck (W) 6 8 3 3 2 3
Records: Beaver (17-1); Philipsburg-Osceola (21-5).