STRATTANVILLE - Philipsburg-Osceola coach Jim Gonder has one of the most successful softball programs in the state, amassing 577 wins and two state titles in his 31 years, but his current team played quite possibly the strangest game ever in that time on Monday.
Playing unbeaten District 9 champion Moniteau in the first round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs in intermittent rain at Clarion-Limestone's field, the Lady Mounties had one of the worst fielding innings in their history and one of the highest scoring innings.
Known for its tough defense, P-O committed five errors in a three-run first innings, including three on one play. But, three innings later and trailing 6-3, the Lady Mounties, sparked by Abby Showers' three-run game-tying home run, scored 16 runs on eight hits and sent 19 batters to the plate in the fourth inning en route to a 19-6 win in five innings.
"I have seen games like that, but it was about 7 years ago when I was growing up," P-O starting pitcher Chelsey Henry said. "You just have to work through it."
"It was unusual," Gonder said. "We had a circus inning in a bad way, but they stayed positive. Abby's home run was huge.
"I hope we do that three more times," Gonder added later with a laugh. "I don't know. I can't explain it."
P-O (20-5) advanced to the quarterfinals, where it will play District 7 champion Beaver, a 6-0 winner over Everett, on Thursday at a site and time to be determined.
The visiting Lady Mounties, playing in their first game since the 5-4 eight-inning loss to Bald Eagle Area in the District 6 championship, scored two unearned runs in the first inning in the rain against pitcher Kennedy DeMatteis before the defense imploded in the bottom of the inning.
Three errors were made on Cortney Claypool's two-out ground ball, allowing two runs to score. One batter later, two more errors were made, and another run scored.
"I think we got a little nervous at the start," said Showers, who started at third base before moving to shortstop, "but I think we came together and came back well.
To P-O's credit, through, it went errorless the rest of the way, and it even turned a double play in the second when Henry snagged Gabby Stewart's line drive and threw to first base to catch the runner off of first. The Lady Mounties nearly turned two more double plays on ground balls in Moniteau's three-run third, but the runners were ruled safe at first both times.
After the second near DP, Sarah Hull laced a two-run double to left-center, and Taylor Hasychak followed with a run-scoring double to right-center, giving Moniteau (20-1) a 6-3 lead. Henry, a sophomore, got out of the jam by inducing a ground ball for the third out.
Megan Bainey and Annie Kost started the fourth by working walks off of DeMatteis, who gave up eight of them and hit three batters in 3 innings of work. Her most interesting line was of the 17 runs she gave up, only four were earned.
After Taffani Wagner moved both runners over with a bunt she almost beat out, Showers pounded her first home run of the season over the left field fence to tie the score.
"It was huge," Showers said of the homer. "We were down and I was thinking 'Just get a base hit.' I didn't know it went over the fence until the second baseman [Alyssa Dailey] told me it did."
Haley Frank followed with a single, and back-to-back errors - Moniteau had six miscues, including five in the inning - that loaded the bases for Henry, who chased two runs home with a single. Henry didn't have her best day pitching, but she had six RBIs, including five in the inning. She came up later with a three-run double.
"As a pitcher, I know I gave up six runs," Henry said, "so I had to make up for it."
"She can do that with the bat," Gonder said.
Every P-O batter scored in the fourth, and Kenzie Burge scored four times in going 1-for-4. Bainey batted three times in the fourth, walking, getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and singling to right to score a run.
"That was nuts," Henry said of the inning.
"We're a team that once somebody gets a hit, the rest of the team hits," Showers said.
Just like in the district title game, freshman Maggie Peck relieved Henry and retired all six batters she faced to end the game. Afterward, the attention turned toward Thursday's game against Beaver.
"Beaver must have a good pitcher," Gonder said. "We'll see what happens."
Philipsburg-Osceola (19): Showers 3b-ss 511, Frank c 422, Burge 1b 341, Hayward ss-3b 230, Henry p-rf 422, Peck 2b-p 321, Bainey cf 221, Kost rf-2b 220, Wagner lf 211. Totals: 27-19-9.
Moniteau (6): Stewart rf 300, Dailey 2b 200, Ken. DeMatteis p-ss 220, Kri. DeMatteis c 312, Claypool ss-p 320, Hull 3b-1b 211, Hasychak 1b-p 201, Campbell dp-1b 200, Greaves cf-3b 100, Sowinski lf-cf 000. Totals: 20-6-4.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Philipsburg-Osceola201 (16)0X X-19 9 5
Moniteau303 0 0X X- 6 4 6
E-Showers, Frank 2, Hayward 2; Stewart, Dailey, Ken. DeMatteis, Claypool, Hull, Greaves. 2B-Burge, Henry; Hull, Hasychak. HR-Showers. RBI-Showers 3, Frank 2, Henry 6, Peck 2, Bainey 2, Kost, Wagner; Hull 2, Hasychak. SB-Showers, Peck, Bainey. SAC-Wagner. HBP-Frank, Hayward, Bainey (by Ken. DeMatteis); Ken. DeMatteis (by Henry). DP-Philipsburg-Osceola. LOB-Philipsburg-Osceola 4, Moniteau 2.
Philipsburg-Osceola: Henry (W)-3 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO; Peck-2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO.
Moniteau: Ken. DeMatteis (L)-3 2/3 IP, 6 H, 17, 4 ER, 8 BB, 2SO; Hasychak-1/3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO; Claypool-1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO.
Records: Philipsburg-Osceola (20-5); Moniteau (20-1).