MONTGOMERY - Haley Gyurina needs no reminder. She, as well as all those affiliated with Muncy softball, know who preceded her as the team's center fielder.
The past four seasons, center fielder Hannah Cole earned all-state honors. Cole casts a big shadow but nobody expects Gyurina to be the next Cole. Muncy just wants her to be herself, to make her own identity.
She is off to a good start.
Reilly Gearhart of Montgomery is tagged out at home by Muncy catcher Crystal Good in the fourth inning Monday at Muncy. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
Gyurina sparked a go-ahead, 3-run third-inning rally with a lead-off double and made the game's biggest play an inning later Monday at Montgomery, throwing out Reilly Gearhart who was trying to tie the game from second. Gyurina's performance offered a glimpse of what might be coming the next four seasons and helped Muncy defeat archrival Montgomery, 6-2.
"It's pressure going from Hannah who was so good and trying to replace her," Gyurina said. "I'm just doing the best I can."
That is all Muncy asks. Gyurina is one of three new starting outfielders and, after a shaky first inning, they all played well and helped Muncy improve to 4-0. Amanda Kustanbauter did not allow an earned run, holding Montgomery scoreless over the final six innings, while Rachel Gresh dropped a go-ahead third-inning bunt and went 0-for-3.
It was the first time Muncy (4-0, 4-0 HAC-III) trailed this season, but it shined in that new role as every player coach Chris Ebner used made an impact. Nine players reached base and Muncy scored a run in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to win at Montgomery for the first time since 2009.
"We all work together and cheer each other on," Gyurina said. "When we get down there's always somewhere there to bring you up."
After Montgomery took an early 2-0 lead, Gyurina, one of four freshmen starters, led off the third with a double. That set the stage for the five returning starters and they delivered.
Jordan Jones dropped a sacrifice bunt and ended up on second after Gyurina scored on an error. Jones stole the first of three bases a pitch later and came home on a throwing error. Caitlin Dauberman (2-for-4) then singled, stole second and moved to third on Kustanbauter's grounder. It was heads-up running by Dauberman who sprinted for third as soon as shortstop Kaylie Harer threw to first.
That little thing proved huge a batter later when Gresh dropped a perfect squeeze in front of home, allowing Dauberman to score the go-ahead run. Gresh, one of Muncy's few seniors, has used her excellent bunting as a weapon early and Muncy scored six runs in the three innings Gresh hit from the third on.
"I do take pride in that," Gresh said. "I just think about it and try to get the bunt down. It's something I really focus on doing well. We work on that a lot every single day."
Gyurina works hard on defense too and it paid huge dividends in the fourth inning. Gearhart singled and moved to second on Dionna Satteson's grounder before Lexi McHenry (2-for-3) hit a single to Gyurina in center field. In one motion, Gyurina made a text-book play, scooping up the ball, taking a big step forward and throwing a perfect strike home.
The throw hit catcher Crystal Good belt high and she made the tag for the out, squashing Montgomery's last serious threat. .
"Right when I got the ball I saw her running so I knew I had to throw it in," Gyurina said. "I heard them all screaming, 'home,' and I saw her rounding. I practice that throw a lot and I was confident I could make it. It felt good."
Like Muncy, Montgomery (1-5, 0-3) also is young and played five freshmen yesterday. The youth showed at times and Muncy capitalized on each of Montgomery's four errors. The Indians stole eight bases and scored twice directly off throwing errors.
Montgomery has lots of upside and gave 2012 Class AA state runner-up Warrior Run one of its toughest games Saturday. It also took a 2-0 first-inning lead when Kaitlin Persing (2-for-3) hit a two-out, two-run, two-strike single. Cut down on the mistakes and Montgomery knows it can be a dangerous team.
"There's talent, but they're young and they're making mistakes and it's the mental part of the game," Montgomery coach Craig Weaver said. "It's growing pains. The kids are good. We keep working very hard but you just can't make those mistakes. You have to have your head in every pitch of every inning."
Rachel Hite continued hitting well for Montgomery and just missed slamming a third-inning, game-tying home run. She settled for a double and went 2-for-3. Kustanbauter ended that threat by inducing an inning-ending popout and did not allow an earned run. The junior has not allowed an earned run in 24 innings thus far.
Muncy made all the plays behind Kustanbauter over the final six innings. Left fielder Lexie Temple made a brilliant catch down the line and both Dauberman and Jones made hit-saving stops at third base and shortstop. That strong defense allowed Kustanbauter to go right after hitters and she threw just 79 pitches.
"Amanda has been pitching great and we felt good," Gresh said. "She definitely feels more comfortable when we're behind her and when the team is with her."
That includes a young center fielder who is making sure that Muncy does not get caught up thinking about the past. There is no need since the present and future look so good.
Muncy003 011 1-6 8 2
Montgomery200 000 0-2 7 4
Amanda Kustanbauter and Crystal Good. Emily Shnyder and Reilly Gearhart. W-Kustanbauter, (4-0). L-Shnyder, (1-5).
Top Muncy hitters: Jordan Jones 1-3, 2 R, 3 SBs; Crystal Good 1-3, RBI, R, 2 SBs; Caitlin Dauberman 2-4, R, 2 SBs; Rachel Gresh 2-3, RBI; Haley Gyurina 1-3, 2B, R. Top Montgomery hitters: Rachel Hite 2-3, 2B, R; Kaitlin Persing 2-3, 2 RBI; Lexi McHenry 2-3.
Records: Muncy 4-0, 4-0 HAC-III. Montgomery 1-5, 0-3.