South Williamsport seniors Rachel Floyd, Jourdan Boehmer and Sarah March form the top of their team's lineup. But they do so much more.
Those seniors share 11 years of starting experience between them and have established themselves as outstanding softball players. Saturday at South, they showed they are terrific people too.
During the offseason, the senior trio started organizing an MS Awareness game and the hard work came to fruition yesterday as South exchanged its traditional blue jerseys for orange ones that promoted the cause. The Mounties looked real good too.
Kalynn Wheeland went 3-for-3 with a home run, March went 2-for-4, Anna Steer threw her first varsity shutout and the defense played great as South blanked previously undefeated Muncy, 10-0 in five innings. March capped a game she helped create by slamming a walk-off single into deep left-center field.
"We wanted to do a benefit game this year and I talked to the captains and the captains decided that MS would be a good cause to play for and they were all big on pushing this," South coach Scott Stugart said. "I think it's a great idea and hopefully we can make it an annual event whether it's this or other causes too."
Former long-time Muncy coach Mark Temons attended yesterday's game and suffers from MS. He has coached some of the South players during the summer and there is not enough room on his resume to list all the players, past and present he has positively impacted over the years. Temons has been a non-stop worker, doing all he can to help girls excel on and off the field and many current coaches learned while working with Temons.
South honored Temons the best way it knew how yesterday. The Mounties (6-2) played their best game this season and everyone contributed, reaching base at least once.
"It not only shows they're playing for a cause but also playing for Mark," Stugart said. "He's influenced a lot of girls over the years as far as mentoring them, getting them into college and he's just a great guy. The girls realize there are bigger things than this and that they have to make a difference elsewhere too."
Wheeland possesses the kind of work ethic Temons appreciates and spends nearly as much time at the South park as the birds in the trees do. It paid off in a big way yesterday as she put South up 1-0 in the first inning with a two-out RBI single before making it 4-0 two innings later with a long one-out home run. Wheeland hammered the 2-2 pitch over the right-field fence despite hitting into a stiff breeze.
The three-year starter capped her day with a single that was part of a six-run fifth inning. The Mounties sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning, scored five two-out runs and made an impressive statement against a team that entered 5-0, having outscored those teams by 54 combined runs.
"I was out here a couple days ago hitting. I have been leaning over so we were working on staying out so I could drive it. I was confident I could hit," Wheeland said. "We're getting more confident that we can be a threat to teams. We are doing good."
"We knew they were 5-0 and they were coming on our field and we didn't want to let them walk on us like we did last year when we let the game go," March said. "We had a little of that in our back pocket and we just wanted to show them that we're here to play."
South delivered 10 hits, made no errors and received five-hit pitching from Steer. Left fielder Jourdan Boehmer saved a run in the third inning with a strong throw home in a 3-0 game. Two innings later two of the team's younger players took their turns in the defensive spotlight.
Freshman first baseman Alana Stugart snared a liner and tug first for a double play a pitch after Amanda Kustanbauter had hit a lead-off single. Then sophomore right fielder Lizz Cummings made a terrific running catch in the gap, taking away a double from Lexie Temple. Those first-year starters also combined for two hits, two walks and three runs while Steer went 2 for 2 with a walk.
"With the seniors graduating last year we knew we would have to have young kids step up and Alana and Anna are doing a great job and Lizz is playing great in the outfield," Wheeland said. "We just made good plays and we hit well throughout the lineup and Anna pitched well."
Stugart dropped a perfect RBI squeeze bunt in the six-run fifth after Cummings drove in a run and before Steer singled again. Sabrina Mussare's grounder was thrown away, allowing two more runs to score before Rachel Floyd and Boehmer also delivered text-book bunts and loaded the bases.
March ended the game three pitches later, driving a long flyball over the center and left fielders' heads.
"Everyone played their hardest," March said. "If they weren't doing it on offense they were doing it on defense and vice-versa."
South has won three straight and is 5-0 at home, scoring 68 runs in those games. What the Mounties did yesterday before the game even started was bigger than the game itself.
"The younger players are just eating it up as far as following the seniors and emulating their work ethic," Stugart said. "It's really a close-knit team and I hope they keep ascending upward as the season continues."
The right girls are leading the way.
Muncy000 00-0 5 2
South121 06-10 10 0
Amanda Kustanbauter and Crystal Good. Anna Steer and Sarah March. W-Steer, (3-2). L-Kustanbauter, (5-1).
Top Muncy hitters: Nicole Harer 2-2; Haley Gyurina 1-2; Kustanbauter 1-1. Top South hitters: Kalynn Wheeland 3-3, HR, 2 RBIs, 2 R; March 2-4, RBI, R; Lizz Cummings 1-2, RBI, SB, R; Alana Stugart 1-2, RBI, 2 R; Steer 2-2.
Records: South 6-2. Muncy 5-1.