For a first-year varsity player, simply being a part of the team has a special meaning.
The first-year players at South Williamsport though, knew it wasn't a matter of reaching that special feeling. It was a matter of winning games and losing games.
The young squad rolled out freshman pitcher Anna Steer and relied on key contributions from freshman Alana Stugart and sophomore Kelsey Gantz to help defeat Hughesville, 11-6.
"When you're young you can get too up or too down and it's tough to regulate it," South Williamsport coach Scott Stugart said. "This team has some experience and leadership and I'm very happy with the way they responded today."
Steer's fortitude was put to the test after a one-run first and again when Hughesville struck for four more runs in the top of the third.
Steer followed both innings with scoreless ones and even helped her own cause with a two-run single in the bottom half of the first.
South Williamsport's (5-2) blooming ace, who pitched her way out of both jams, struck out five and only walked three in seven innings to secure the win.
"It's really important because this is my first year on varsity," Steer said. "It's nice to know my teammates have my back. If I mess up I know they will be there for me."
The scoring spans always followed a difficult fielding inning for the Mounties.
On the heels of Hughesville's (1-6) one-run first inning, which was created off a throwing error, South Williamsport cruised to get four in the bottom of the inning.
The first five batters reached and Steer had a two-RBI single to complete the scoring.
"It's means a lot to me and the team," Steer said. "We all start the rally and get excited and just keep going."
The bottom half of South Williamsport's lineup was especially strong against Hughesville. The final three hitters finished 4-for-7 with three walks, four runs, and four RBI.
"We have three first-year players in the bottom half of the line-up," Stugart said. "They are all getting on base and doing the little things. At times you can see them get overwhelmed, but you can see that diminishing as we go. Today was a great example of that."
Stugart (1-for-2, 2 runs, RBI) drew a walk in the first as part of South's four-run inning. She then connected with an RBI single in the fourth and walked in the fifth, scoring in both instances.
Sabrina Mussare, with both Stugart and Steer providing offense in front of her, reached safely on all three of her at-bats. The Mounties' second baseman put down a bunt single in the first and drove a run in with a single in the fourth. She then walked in the fifth and scored on a fielder's choice to short.
Hughesville, though, wouldn't go down without a fight, rallying to score four in the third and another in the seventh.
Cindie Wilt was a big reason why Hughesville managed to stay with South Williamsport. The senior right-hander went 3-for-3, drove in a run, and struck out two.
Unlike South Williamsport, which relied on the bottom half of its order, Hughesville did most of its damage from the middle. Along with Wilt's three hits, Eleanor Watts (3-4, run, RBI) and Juneil Ritter (2-4, run) accounted for the majority of offense from the Spartans.
Hughesville 104 000 1-6 12 3
S. Williamsport402 140 x-11 9 3
Cindie Wilt, Eleanor Watts, and Kaitlyn Laforme. Anna Steer and Sarah March. W-Steer. L-Wilt.
Top Hughesville hitters: Watts 3-4, run RBI; Cortney Zook 3B; Wilt 3-3, run, RBI. Top South Williamsport hitters: Kalynn Wheeland 2-4, run; Kelsey Gantz 2-3, 2B, 2 runs, RBI; Alana Stugart 1-2, 2 runs, RBI; Steer 2 RBI, run.
Records: South Williamsport 5-2. Hughesville 1-6.
Next: Muncy at South Williamsport, Saturday, 11 a.m. East Juniata at Hughesville, Monday, 4:30 p.m.