The sun casting shadows near the dugout, South Williamsport seniors Jourdan Boehmer, Rachel Floyd and Sarah March stepped out of the dark and into the sunlight. One by one the team's three seniors posed for pictures following their final regular-season home game and each one received the movie star spotlight treatment.
But while the sun may be setting on their scholastic careers there is more work to do. The way all three have helped put the luster back on a proud program, the team might be working for a while.
Anna Steer threw a brilliant complete-game three-hitter, seven different players delivered a hit and Lizz Cummings belted a big two-run, first-inning single as South defeated playoff-bound Wellsboro 6-2 Thursday in its regular-season finale. South (14-6) won its sixth straight, avenged a heartbreaking playoff loss to Wellsboro from last season and clinched its best record since 2009.
Kelsey Gantz of South Williamsport reacts as Wellsboro’s Paige Carr is safe at third base Thursday at South Williamsport. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
"It's a really good feeling. I know last year after Casey (Brewer) left a lot of people doubted us so we just wanted to come out stronger this year," Boehmer said. "We're going to keep proving them wrong, too."
The Mounties will be seeded No. 3 in next week's District 4 Class A playoffs and host their first playoff game since 2010. They have made a four-win improvement from last season after making a two-win improvement in 2012. Boehmer, Floyd and March have 11 years of starting experience between them and have helped one of the area's younger teams peak at the perfect time.
South beat its fourth playoff-bound team in five games and handled Wellsboro (12-6) a day after the Green Hornets blanked NTL-East champion Troy, 6-0. South made an emphatic Senior Day statement about how far it has come.
"I was a little worried the teams of the last couple years we're kind of accepting mediocrity a little bit and these girls were not going to allow it to happen and that's a testament to those three (seniors)," South coach Scott Stugart said. "We can lecture the girls all day long and they might tune us out but when you have the support of these three it lends credence to what we're saying."
The seniors have had a big impact on Steer, who now is a freshman in name only. She has progressed each game and developed into one of the area's premier pitchers. She was outstanding yesterday, scattering four hits, allowing just one earned run and striking out six.
After the first two Wellsboro runners reached on errors, Steer maintained her composure and retired the heart of Wellsboro's order. Kelsey Gantz hit a sacrifice fly and Cummings ripped a two-run single in the bottom half inning and just like that South had turned potential disaster into a terrific start.
"My team always has my back. I know we can get out of anything. Once we make an error we come right back and pull it out," Steer said. "I wasn't there last year and didn't see any part of the game but I heard about it and wanted to help us overcome that and show them that we can beat them when we play our hardest."
Boehmer (2 for 3) hit a two-out RBI single in the second inning and Steer's two-out RBI bloop double in the third gave South a 5-1 lead. Jenny Young's RBI single pulled Wellsboro within 5-2, but unlike last year, there would be no dramatic Wellsboro comeback. Steer and her defense would not allow it.
Boehmer anchored a strong outfield and made some nice catches while second baseman Sabrina Mussare played a terrific game. Had she not made two nice plays in the third inning, Wellsboro might have scored more than once and the game's complexion could have changed.
"No matter what I have confidence in everyone on the field," Steer said. "Coach has been telling us we have to get focused, stay focused and show what we can do."
Wellsboro did not play a bad game, South simply played a better one. The Green Hornets had won five straight before yesterday and remain a dangerous team in the District 4 Class AA playoff field.
"These kids are fighters. They are young, but they're fighters. They won't quit," Wellsboro coach Greg Carr said. "I'm sure they had incentive after last year's game. Today they were the victorious ones so hat's off to them."
Both times Wellsboro scored, South answered right back. Following Young's RBI single, Kalynn Wheeland hit a two-out RBI single in the fourth inning, capping the day's scoring. The Mounties scored their final five runs with two outs and both Floyd (2 for 3) and Boehmer continued rallies with perfect bunts in the second and fourth innings.
They were little things but they were masterfully performed. The little things that trio has done the last few years have produced a big season.
"We had a fresh start this year and we're all pretty confident," Boehmer said. "We believe in ourselves."
"We've talked about legacy from the beginning. That was my first team meeting with them in the preseason," Stugart said. "You give your speech and you get eyerolls and don't know what's sinking in but the older girls have been around the block in a lot of sports.
"With them here, they get it," said Stugart.
Wellsboro001 100 0-2 4 2
South311 100 x-6 10 3
Alexa Singer, Brooke Kohler (3) and Paige Carr. Anna Steer and Sarah March. W-Steer, (11-6). L-Singer, (4-3).
Top Wellsboro hitters: Maggie Smith 1-3, 2B, RBI; Singer 1-1, 2B, R; Jenny Young 1-3, RBI. Top South hitters: Rachel Floyd 2-3, 2 R; Jourdan Boehmer 2-3, RBI, R; Kalynn Wheeland 1-2, RBI; Kelsey Gantz 1-2, RBI; Lizz Cummings 1-3, 2 RBI; Sabrina Mussare 1-2.
Records: South 14-6. Wellsboro 12-6.