South Williamsport left fielder Jourdan Boehmer held the ball up high, convincing herself as much as the umpire she actually had caught it. Few others believed it either, but here was the proof.
And there was one of the best plays in South softball history.
Boehmer made a remarkable catch that saved three fifth-inning runs in a scoreless game before Sarah March hit a go-ahead fifth-inning single and Anna Steer added a two-run, sixth-inning single Thursday as South defeated visiting Montgomery 3-0 in a thrilling District 4 Class A quarterfinal. Steer threw a dazzling three-hit shutout but if not for Boehmer's catch, South might be turning in its uniforms today.
Instead, the Mounties (15-6) are district semifinal-bound for the first time since 2009 and will meet defending champion Northeast Bradford Tuesday.
"It was one of the best catches I've ever seen," March said. "We had a lot of momentum the whole game, but that really topped it off."
Montgomery (11-9) had the bases loaded in the fifth and top hitter Emily Shnyder lofted a fly ball down the left field line that it seemed nobody could reach. Boehmer was playing Shnyder deep and had to cover more than half of left field to reach the ball, while shortstop Kalynn Wheeland sprinted furiously from behind and approached it.
Just as Boehmer started to slide and stick her glove out, she collided with Wheeland but stuck with the ball, made the catch and held on despite hitting the ground hard. Boehmer not only snuffed out a potential game-winning rally, but made a play that defines her stellar scholastic career.
"I saw that it was up high and I was really far back and I didn't think I was going to get it," said, Boehmer, a three-year starting senior. "I just wanted to do anything I could because I knew the bases were loaded and that could be a big play in the game. I'm just not ready for it to end and had to do everything I could to get to the ball."
"I can't believe she held on to it," South coach Scott Stugart said. "I saw the collision and you know what to expect in that situation and when I saw she rolled over and showed it I just said, 'Wow!'"
Steer elicited similar responses. The freshman pitcher displayed steely nerves while consistently working out of trouble. She induced two grounders to get out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fourth, starting a pretty double play with a nice stop on a hard grounder that March completed with a perfect throw to first.
South recorded two double plays, second baseman Sabrina Mussare turning an unassisted one in the second. March ended the game by picking a runner off first with another snap throw.
Steer shined offensively too, going 2 for 3 and hitting a clutch two-out, two-run sixth-inning single to provide herself insurance runs. Wheeland and Kelsey Gantz ignited that rally with a single and walk, respectively, before Alana Stugart bunted them over.
"Anna had a huge game," Stugart said. "The last couple games she started to heat back up with her bat. She's fielding her position well and is pitching great and that was such a key hit."
So was March's. Steer delivered her first hit to start the fifth inning and Mussare's bunt coupled with a Rachel Floyd single and Boehmer grounder put runners on second and third with two outs.
March slammed a wicked liner that Shnyder remarkably got a glove on to prevent from going to center field. She beat the throw to first and pinch-runner Aly Balawajder scored the game's first run.
"I was thinking this could make or break your senior year and I wanted to keep playing so I put everything I had into it," March said. "I just tried to hit it hard somewhere. I saw that she made a nice play on it and I knew I had to run as fast I could to get down the line."
Shnyder pitched an excellent game, scattering six hits and striking out five in the first two innings. The three-year starter was instrumental to Montgomery rallying from a 3-7 start to reach districts for a 10th straight year. The Raiders won eight of their last 10 games and laid a nice future foundation.
It was an impressive run for a team that started four freshmen and has no seniors. Shnyder was adept at pitching out of trouble early, leaving runners on second and third twice. She also was backed by a good defense as second baseman Lexi McHenry, shortstop Kaylie Harer and center fielder Corrine Shaffer all made nice plays.
"Emily pitched lights out," Stugart said. "She pitched well when we played before but she stepped it up a notch. She was painting the outside corner and took us a little bit to get it going against her."
March made a highlight-type play in the third inning, catching a foul ball nearly halfway down the first-base line while sliding on one knee and extending herself.
"We were positive the whole game," Boehmer said. "We all made a lot of good plays."
Montgomery000 000 0-0 3 2
S. Williamsport000 012 x-3 6 3
Emily Shnyder and Reilly Gearhart. Anna Steer and Sarah March. W-Steer, (12-6). L-Shnyder, (10-9).
Top Montgomery hitters: Rachel Hite 1-2, BB; Kaylie Harer 1-3; Lexi McHenry 1-3. Top South hitters: Rachel Floyd 1-3, R; Jourdan Boehmer 1-2; March 1-3, RBI; Kalynn Wheeland 1-2, R; Lizz Cummings 1-3, 2B; Steer 2-3, 2 RBI.
Records: South 15-6. Montgomery 11-9.