No matter the situation Thursday, Montoursville pitcher Cayla Treaster kept smiling. Whether she was recording a strikeout or allowing a hit, Treaster remained upbeat.
Moments after yesterday's game at South Williamsport, however, Treaster broke down. Emotions finally took over. She desperately wanted to win this game. Her team wanted it just as bad. And against the odds, they earned it.
Treaster threw a six-hit gem and scored the go-ahead run on Kim Foster's sixth-inning sacrifice fly as Montoursville erased a four-run fourth-inning deficit and defeated South, 6-4 in a thrilling HAC-II rivalry game.
South Williamsport’s Roxie Keller safely steals second base as Montoursville’s Payton Lynch awaits the throw on Thursday at South Williamsport. The Warriors defeated the Mounties, 6-4. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com
The Warriors (2-1, 2-1 HAC-II) beat South for the first time this decade and showed their toughness is equal to their talent.
"I can't even describe it. It was amazing. I can't believe it," Treaster said through tears as happy teammates embraced her. "We just needed to stay up. I'm so happy right now. We went into this knowing we needed a win and we got it."
"There's always fight left," said Marlene Bassett who hit a game-tying sixth-inning RBI single and finished 2 for 3 with two RBIs. "We never give up. You just keep fighting until the end."
Montoursville did that all last year and turned a six-run deficit into an 8-7 win late in the season against District 4 Class AAA runner-up Milton. More often than not, however, the Warriors had to settle for moral victories. It seemed history was repeating itself yesterday as Montoursville hit the ball hard but right at players early and fell behind 4-0 in the third after Kalynn Wheeland homered twice.
This time, a team that used to receive little breaks started making its own. Treaster never wavered and allowed just a bunt single over the last four innings while the offense came alive and delivered seven hits during that same time. Montoursville scored three times in the fourth inning and took the lead with a three-run sixth.
"They are loaded with character. Giving up those two home runs was probably enough to knock the wind out of most people's sails and to not give up and keep coming back was big," Montoursville coach Mike Tate said. "Everyone in the lineup did something good and that is what it takes."
Kourtney Phillips ignited the game-winning sixth-inning rally, hitting a one-out single. Treaster followed with a single before Bassett delivered another clutch hit, slamming an RBI single to right-center field that tied the game. A batter later, Foster hit a fly ball into shallow right field that looked like it would be enough to keep Treaster at third.
Instead, Treaster made a furious dash for home and just beat the throw as Montoursville took its first lead. Hanna Cioffi provided a huge insurance run a batter later, lining a RBI single after hitting the ball hard her previous at-bats but right to center fielder Lizz Cummings. In its two three-run innings, Montoursville scored three two-out runs and delivered seven hits.
"They pulled through," Treaster said. "Our hitting has been struggling lately but they all come through for me."
The bottom of Montoursville's order was especially potent. Treaster, Bassett, Foster and Cioffi went a combined 6 for 11 with five RBIs and two runs. Bassett delivered one of the game's biggest hits in the fourth inning and played with a lot of maturity for a freshman making just her third varsity start.
After Kelsey Stine hit a fourth-inning RBI single, it appeared South (2-1, 1-1) might escape further damage and strand two runners. Bassett fell behind 0-2 with two outs before belting a RBI single. Foster followed with an RBI single as Montoursville cut the deficit to 4-3 and changed the game's complexion.
"I just wanted the best for my team and to get a hit and help them out," Bassett said. "I've been playing for a while but it's always an adrenaline rush, it's a big moment when you can come through in those spots."
Montoursville made a big statement against a team two days removed from defeating defending HAC-II champion Loyalsock, 9-5. It also overcame Wheeland's stellar performance. Wheeland hit a mammoth first-inning, two-run home run well over the left-field fence that put South ahead 3-0. She cleared the center-field fence two innings later and put South ahead 4-0.
The all-state shortstop has four hits in three games this week and all are home runs. Wheeland hurt her left shoulder while hitting her second home run but remained in the game, walked in her next at-bat and made some nice plays at shortstop.
"She works so hard and she's a perfectionist," South coach Scott Stugart said. "It's amazing. She puts so much power into her swing and when she brings that bat head through it's going to go a long way."
Wheeland was waiting on deck in the seventh inning but Treaster avoided her. After Paige Lentz dropped a perfect leadoff bunt single, Treaster retired the next three hitters, striking out her eighth for the second out. Treaster induced a game-ending pop out to shortstop Payton Lynch who earlier squashed a potential rally by robbing Sabrina Mussare of an infield single.
The excitement Montoursville displayed as soon as Lynch secured the catch spoke volumes. A group of fighters had a signature win over a strong local rival. Just as important, the Warriors sensed that they might have started something big.
"Hopefully this is enough of a confidence builder for them after being down 4-0," Tate said. "All these kids are hard workers and it finally paid off. They just keep believing in themselves."
Montoursville000 303 0-6 8 1
South301 000 0-4 6 1
Cayla Treaster and Kelsey Stine. Anna Steer and Alana Herrera. W-Treaster, (2-1). L-Steer, (1-1).
Top Montoursville hitters: Treaster 2-3, R; Marlene Bassett 2-3, 2 RBI, R; Kim Foster 1-2, 2 RBI; Hanna Cioffi 1-3, RBI, SB; Stine 1-4, RBI, R. Top South hitters: Kalynn Wheeland 2-2, 2 HRs, 3 RBI, 2 R; Lizz Cummings 1-3, R.
Records: Montoursville 2-1, 2-1 HAC-II. South 2-1, 1-1.