Eyes on the prize: Lady Mounties one win from state title
LORETTO — With four home runs for the season and hitting in front of Madison Lucas, who hit a Philipsburg-Osceola single-season record for homers with 12, Hannah Thompson isn’t known for her power.
But when the senior muscled up against Southmoreland reliever Lexi Klatt, she ignited an onslaught that the Scotties couldn’t slow down.
With P-O leading by two in the top of the sixth inning of the PIAA Class 3A state semifinal on a battleship gray, cool Monday evening at Saint Francis’ Red Flash Field, Thompson hit a two-run home run over the left-center field fence.
“Hannah’s two-run homer really kind of gave us the cushion that we needed,” P-O coach Jim Gonder said. “It kind of gave the rest of us momentum and got them down a little bit. I think it was a big hit for us.”
That opened up the floodgates for the Lady Mounties. Kam Harris followed two batters later with a two-run monster homer over the center field fence en route to a six-RBI performance. P-O, which has been eking out close wins in the playoffs, scored seven runs in the seventh to win, 15-4.
“It felt really good,” Thompson said. “We needed to start hitting, and we did. I never expected this. We just kept thinking 0-0 ball game and keep hitting.”
“So far in this tournament, we hadn’t scored as much as that, and we haven’t been up as much as that,” Harris said. “Tonight, we really emphasized that no matter what, we’re going to go down swinging, and that’s exactly what we did.”
So, the team that needed a seventh-inning rally to beat eighth-seeded Tyrone in the District 6 quarterfinals will be playing for a state title at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday at Penn State’s Beard Field at Nittany Lion Softball Park. P-O (24-1) will play Holy Redeemer, a 2-0 winner over North Schuylkill in the other semifinal.
“At the beginning of the year, some of the parents were making reservations for State College,” Gonder said. “I had to calm that down. They had to perform throughout the year. When expectations are so high, it can be sometimes hard to live up to them, but they did.”
Southmoreland came into the game with just a 12-7 record.
“I was more afraid of their confidence and mojo,” Gonder said of Southmoreland, “that they had something going on.”
P-O jumped out first in the first inning when Harris plated Kylie Thal with a sacrifice fly. Both Harris and Thal had three hits – the third straight game Thal has done that.
The Scotties responded with a Jess Matheny run-scoring single in the bottom of the first. They took the lead, 2-1, in the third when leadoff hitter Charity Henderson hit a home run to center field off of Harris.
Harris, who struck out six, walked two and scattered eight hits among her 106 pitches, got into a groove later, retiring nine in a row until Emily Eutsey delivered a single in the sixth.
“She did a nice job,” Gonder said. “We won, so I can say I thought the strike zone was tough for both teams.”
P-O tied the game in the fourth when No. 9 hitter Lacey Potter laced a two-out single to center field to chase home pinch runner Hannah Minarchick.
The Lady Mounties regained the lead for good in the fifth after Thompson led off the inning with a double to left field. Lucas reached on an error before pounded a Matheny pitch to deep center field, scoring Thompson and Lucas.
Klatt, who relieved Matheny twice in the game, prevented any more runs from scoring in the fifth. She, however, had no solution for Thompson and Harris in the sixth.
Thal started it with a one-out single to left, and then Thompson, who along with Thal, Jayde Burge and Potter recently graduated, pounded a Klatt offering over the left-center field fence, thrilling the chilled P-O crowd.
“I didn’t know when it over the fence until Chip (Branthoover), our first base coach, told me,” Thompson said. “But it felt really good.”
“She’s hit a couple nice bombs this year and last year,” Gonder said. “You don’t think of her as a home run hitter. We almost bunted her, as a matter of fact.”
Lucas worked a walk off of Klatt, and Harris hit a long home run over the center field fence.
“It felt great,” Harris said, “but I’m just going off the momentum of my teammates.”
“Prior to the postseason, especially in the PIAA playoffs, we had been hitting a lot of home runs,” Gonder said. “We had gone funky there for a couple games, and it was nice to see (the home runs).”
Matheny returned to the pitching circle after the homer and got two ground ball outs, but P-O, which had 14 hits, erupted again in the seventh, sending 12 batters to the plate in the seven-run outburst.
Thal doubled off the center field fence to plate Rachel Simpson with the first run, and Harris scored Kendra Carns with a bases-loaded, two-out single for her sixth RBI. Burge’s run-scoring single was followed by an Adams two-run single to make the score 14-2. Carns was hit by a Matheny pitch with the bases loaded later.
Southmoreland’s Bethany Bunner hit a two-run home run over the center field fence in the bottom of the seventh, but Harris induced a ground ball out and caught Klatt looking for a strikeout and the last out.
The Lady Mounties and their fans celebrated a return to the state championship, where they’ll go for their third title and first since 2011.
“It means a lot,” Thompson said. “We’ve worked long and hard for this, and we’re so excited to be in the top two in the state.”
PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA (15): Thal c 433, Thompson ss 432, Lucas rf 420, Harris dp-p 313, Minarchick cr-pr 010, McDonald cr 010, Burge 3b 502, Hardy pr 010, Adams lf 412, Simpson 2b 311, Carns cf 310, Potter 1b 501, Taylor p-lf 000. Totals: 35-15-14.
SOUTHMORELAND (4): Henderson rf-c 411, Bunner cf 423, Miller rf 300, Klatt c-p 300, Matheny p-rf 302, Mullet cr 000, Eutsey 3b 301, Fullem dp 200, Myers 1b 200, Belzer ph 100, Shetterly lf 100, Corvin ss 000. Totals: 28-4-8.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Philipsburg-Osceola 100 124 7–15 14 0
Southmoreland 101 000 2–4 8 4
Errors–Corvin 2, Matheny, Eutsey. 2B–Thal, Thompson. HR–Thompson, Harris; Henderson, Bunner. RBI–Harris 6, Thompson 2, Adams 2, Thal, Burge, Carns, Potter; Bunner 2, Henderson, Matheny. SB–Lucas 2. SF–Harris. SAC–Simpson, Miller. HBP–Carns (by Matheny). LOB–Philipsburg-Osceola 9, Southmoreland 6.
Philipsburg-Osceola: Harris (W)–7 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO.
Southmoreland: Matheny (L)–5 1/3 IP, 10 H, 11 R, 9 ER, 6 BB, 1 SO; Klatt–1 2/3 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 0 SO.
Records: Philipsburg-Osceola (24-1), Southmoreland (12-8)