Local stars cherish showcase
UNIVERSITY PARK – The atmosphere in the District 6 dugout for the two District 6 Hall of Fame Classic all-star games against District 4 Wednesday night at Penn State’s Nittany Lion Softball Park was apparently laid-back, to say the least.
“We were talking in the first game about ordering pizza down in the dugout,” Philipsburg-Osceola’s Chelsey Henry said. “We were all hungry, but my family brought me Texas Roadhouse, so I had to share it in the dugout. I really enjoyed it. There wasn’t any pressure, and you actually got to make friends.”
As always with the all-star game, the interaction with girls from other teams is bigger than the games. For the record, the first game ended in a 3-3 tie because of the one-hour, 30-minute time limit, and District 6 won the second game, 5-2.
“It was great,” Henry said. “I had so much fun with everyone. I got to meet a lot of new people, a lot of people I thought would be enemies against us because we’re P-O. But, you know, all of that kind of faded away.”
The last time Henry played at Penn State’s field, it turned out to be a magical night for P-O in the first round of the PIAA playoffs. Henry and teammate Haylee Hayward hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie Steel Valley, and then Hayward won it with a hit in the eighth.
Both were back on the field for one last time. Hayward will be trying out for the softball team and the basketball team at Slippery Rock, while Henry will play softball at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.
“It’s awesome,” Hayward said. “You play together your whole life and doing army crawls in the dirt at practice when we were 8 or 10 years old. And then to be able to finish it out with her is something special. I will definitely cherish this moment for a very long time.”
“It was so nice,” Henry said. “We’ve played together all of our lives. I love going out (playing softball) with her.”
The Lady Mounties even enjoyed playing with players from Bald Eagle Area, the arch-rival of P-O. The Lady Mounties won their 12th District 6 title with a 4-0 win over BEA at Penn State.
“It was so fun,” Hayward said. “It’s always fun getting to play with the people that you always play against. There’s like a big Bald Eagle rivalry, and then you realize they’re awesome just like our team. We were talking about what if Bald Eagle and P-O ever combined? That would be awesome.”
“I kind of grew up with Bald Eagle. This isn’t the first time we’ve played together,” Henry said. “It’s really nice seeing each other, not just on opposite sides of the fields but together in the dugout.”
Hayward, batting second in the second game, knocked in the first run with a ground ball to second base. District 6 scored a run in the inning without a hit, and it didn’t have hit until Hayward’s leadoff double in the fourth inning.
“Coach (Jim Gonder) says if there’s a runner on third, we want to get a deep fly ball or something on the right side of the field,” Hayward said. “I just focused on trying to hit the ball to the right side, and she gave me an outside pitch, so I took it that way.”
Henry went 0-for-3 in the second game, but she nearly had one in the fifth with two outs and two on, but her scorching line drive back up the middle was gloved by District 4 pitcher Katie Cowfer, who left the pitching circle looking very relieved that she didn’t get by the ball.
“It scared the heck out of me,” Henry said. “I know it scared the heck out of her. I didn’t want her getting hit, and I was really concerned with her.
Central Mountain’s Kimmie Coder broke up open a 2-2 tie game in the fourth with a two-run single that scored Hayward and courtesy runner Rachel Bernier. After that, it was all District 6.
“I guess it was good,” Henry said of the win. “We weren’t really paying attention to be honest with you.”
Bellwood-Antis’ Caroline Showalter, who didn’t play in the second game, came through with three hits in the first game. State College’s Hannah Shields knocked in two runs with a double in the fifth inning to tie the game.
Unfortunately, there was some bad news in the first game. Bellwood-Antis’ Taylor Shildt, who started the game at pitcher, suffered an apparent knee injury sliding into second base in the first inning and had to be helped off the field.
Notes: Philipsburg-Osceola’s Chelsea Rex, Mackenzie Wilson and Amanda Arnold and Philipsburg resident and retired Centre Daily Times sports columnist/editor Ron Bracken were among those inducted into the District 6 Hall of Fame. Gonder was recognized for reaching the 600-win plateau during the season before the game.