UNIVERSITY PARK - Bald Eagle Area is headed to the PIAA Class AA girls' softball state championship game.
The Eagles punched their ticket to the big game with a 7-3 victory over Mountain League and District 6 rival Philipsburg-Osceola before a standing-room-only crowd of 1,350 Monday afternoon at Penn State University's Beard Field.
"It's incredible," BEA pitcher Makennah Dyke said of the win. "I'm speechless. This is the greatest thing that's ever happened."
Dyke, one of only two seniors on the BEA squad, and P-O freshman Maggie Peck matched zeroes for 3 1/2 innings before the Eagles' Marisa Tobias singled home Mikala Smith to break the scoreless duel in the top of the fourth.
Tiffani Wagner's sacrifice fly scored Megan Bainey with the equalizer for P-O in the bottom of the fifth, but BEA exploded for six runs on eight hits in the last two innings to take control.
"I didn't expect us to get that big of a lead," Dyke said. "I expected it to be a one-run game like the others. But, when we came out and started hitting, it relieved a lot of pressure on me and the rest of the team."
BEA and P-O had met three previous times - twice in the Mountain League and the other in the District 6 final - and all three games were decided by one run.
The Eagles put together four hits, an error and a sacrfice bunt for four runs in the top of the sixth that turned the game their way. The Mounties came back with two in their half of the sixth, cutting the lead to 5-3, but BEA sealed it with a pair in the top of the seventh.
"It's disappointing," P-O coach Jim Gonder said, "because, when you get this far, you obviously want to get to the final.
"Hats off to Bald Eagle. They beat us three out of four this year, which is not easy to do," Gonder continued, "so I have to give them all the credit. They deserve to be in the final game, and I'm wishing them all the best."
Like BEA, Philipsburg also loses only two seniors, so both teams should be in the running again next season.
"Thank goodness, the Dyke girl (BEA pitcher) is gone," Gonder said. "She did a great job against us this year, but it could be (a repeat)."
P-O loses catcher Haley Frank and left fielder Tiffani Wagner.
"Haley has over 100 hits," Gonder said, "and Tiffani came in this year and did a good job, especially defensively.
"I'm ready for a hiatus," Gonder laughed, "but the bottom line is we have the potential to be here again next year, and they (girls) know that.
"They'll have to work hard because nobody is going to give it to us."
BALD EAGLE AREA (7): Giedroc ss 422, Ma. Dyke p 200, Peters ph 100, Smith 2b 432, Tobias 3b 402, Fischer rf 401, Woodward pr 010, Andrews lf 312, Proctor dp 301, Mo. Dyke 1b 301, Nyman c 301, Dillon cr 000, Peters cf 000. Totals - 31-7-12.
PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA (3): Frank c 400, Burge 1b 312, Hayward 3b 300, Henry rf 311, Showers ss 302, Peck p 300, Bainey cf 311, Kost 2b 100, Kephart ph 100, Wagner lf 201. Totals - 26-3-7.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Bald Eagle Area000 104 2-7 12 1
Philipsburg-Osceola000 012 0-3 7 2
E-Andrews, Burge, Showers. 2B-Giedroc, Andrews, Showers, Wagner. RBI-Smith 2, Tobias 2, Fischer, Andrews, Proctor, Showers 2, Wagner.
BEA PITCHING IP H R ER SO BB
Dyke (W) ..........7 7 3 3 4 1
Peck (L) ...........7 12 7 4 4 0
Records: Bald Eagle Area (22-4); Philipsburg-Osceola (21-6).