Harris, Carns lead P-O into district title game
By Todd Irwin
PHILIPSBURG — The last time Philipsburg-Osceola and Ligonier Valley played each other, P-O pitcher Kam Harris got the better of Jane Garver in a pitching duel in last year’s District 6 Class 3A Championship.
The teams tangled in the semifinals on a sunny Thursday at P-O, and the pitching aces again stole the show.
Harris, a junior, tossed a three-hitter, and her defense, which committed four errors in the playoff opener against Tyrone, played errorless. The sophomore Garver gave up only four hits, and her defense played errorless. The difference was a Kendra Carns RBI double in the second inning that held up in a 1-0 victory for P-O.
“She’s a great pitcher,” Harris said of Garver. “I know her pretty well, and she works her corners pretty well. But as long as we can stay on top of the ball, I think we’re good.”
“Kam does a nice job. She hits her spots really well, and we hit a lot of fly balls of her,” Ligonier Valley coach Mark Zimmerman said. “We just couldn’t get much squared up on her. Jane’s changeup worked pretty well for her today. She struggled with her spots a little, but she kept fighting and did a nice job.”
Top-seeded P-O (20-1) advanced to the district title game against sixth-seeded Central, which handed second-seeded Bald Eagle Area a 10-1 loss. That game will be played at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Saint Francis University. The Rams finished with a 16-5 record.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Harris said. “This is our third district championship appearance in the last three years, and I’m pretty confident about that.”
The game ended with a defensive gem. With Abi Cmar on first base with one out in the top of the seventh, Kaylee Colt put down a bunt that catcher Kylie Thal fielded and threw to first to get Colt.
Cmar opted to try to take third on the throw, but P-O second baseman Rachel Simpson threw to third baseman Jayde Burge, who tagged the sliding Ram to complete the double play and the game. P-O second straight one-run victory started a celebration.
“That last play was phenomenal,” P-O coach Jim Gonder said. “That ball died on the plate, and Kylie made a great play. There was some congestion at first base, and then our second baseman, Rachel, threw a laser over to third base, and Jayde made a great tag.”
“It’s a set play that we have on the bunt, going from first to third,” Zimmerman said. “It’s a read by the runner. I think she really felt, it was getting late and we need to do something. She pushed the envelope, and she just came up short. I like that play, and I certainly don’t question’s Abi’s decision.”
The only run came in the second inning when Carns, the No. 7 hitter who hit her first home against Tyrone in the four-run seventh, hit a two-out double off of the base of the fence, plating pinch runner Hannah Minarchick. Lacey Potter followed with a single to left, but Carns was thrown out at home for the third out.
“Kendra has been a flex player for us for two years,” Gonder said. “I told her ‘Kendra, I need you to step up and be a hitter this year.’ She’s getting better each time. Seven, eight and nine this year has been really outstanding for us. They’ve turned the lineup over many, many times for us.”
After that, it was all Harris and Garver inducing pop-ups. Harris induced eight pop-ups, while Garver forced 10.
“When Kam’s getting popups, she’s pitching a good game,” Gonder said. “When she gets the girls with her spin, and they’re popping it up, that’s when I know she’s pitching a good game. Madison Lucas played a great game in right field. She made plays and really stepped it up in right field for us.”
The Lady Mounties will now prepare to play for their third straight district championship.
“We’re excited as heck,” Gonder said. “That’s what you work for all year, and it’s nice that we’re guaranteed at least two more games. The semifinals are a big game, as far as I’m concerned. I think there’s more pressure in the semis than in the finals.”
Ligonier Valley (0): Petrof 1b 300, Klinchock rf 300, Stormer c 300, Garver p 300, Turcheck cf 300, Cmar 3b 201, Colt 301, Lynn 2b 100, Boitos lf 101, McKlveen ss 000. Totals: 22-0-3.
Philipsburg-Osceola (1): Thal c 301, Thompson ss 200, Lucas rf 300, Harris dp-1 200, Burge 3b 300, Adams lf 300, Simpson 2b 301, Minarchick pr 010, Carns cf 101, Potter 1b 101, Taylor p-(flex) 000. Totals: 21-1-4.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Ligonier Valley 000 000 0–0 3 0
Philipsburg-Osceola 010 000 x–1 4 0
2B–Carns. RBI–Carns. SAC–Lynn. HBP–Thompson, Harris, Potter. DP–Philipsburg-Osceola. LOB–Ligonier Valley 4, Philipsburg-Osceola 6.
PITCHING: Ligonier Valley: Garver (L)–6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO. Philipsburg-Osceola: Harris (W)–7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO.
Records: Ligonier Valley (16-5), Philipsburg-Osceola (20-1).