LOCK HAVEN - When the Lady Bearcats of Huntingdon came into Allison Township, Central Mountain coach Dave Peters had to feel good about his team's chances.
His squad rode into Peddie Park with a three-game winning streak and pulled their record back up to .500 for the first time since the beginning of April. Yesterday in Allison Township could be a snap shot of how the Lady Wildcats' season has been going.
"We had things rolling," he said. "We came in on a win streak. We got out and scored early. We had everything going our way."
It was full of promise, then an untimely miscue and some control issues in the fourth inning cost Central Mountain a Mountain League victory - as the Lady Bearcats walked away with a 5-2 victory.
It started on such a good note. CM starting pitcher Whitney Peters looked stellar in the circle, mowing through the first nine batters she faced.
She gave up only one hit in the first three innings - a baserunner who would later be doubled up - and had full support of her defense. Especially from junior first baseman Morgan Kunes.
For the first seven batters, Kunes was in on all the outs, including a sharply hit line drive in the second inning -which she calmly fielded and stepped on first.
"Morgan makes all of us better," coach Peters said. "She is good defensively, holds the bag well and knows when to come off the bag. She is a great team player and it is nice to have her out there."
The first inning from the plate for the home team showed much promise.
Brittany Koch opened then frame with a double, was moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Ciarra Peters and scored on a Jessica Strouse double.
Kayla Glossner - who reached on an error by the shortstop - scored on a sac fly by Rachael Shady and gave the Lady Wildcats a 2-0 lead.
"We wanted to get out and score some runs," coach Peters said. "That was our goal. We had things swinging in our favor."
Whitney Peters and the Wildcats were in total control - that is, until the fourth inning.
One error, an untimely breakdown by the Wildcat defense, a couple walks, three hits and some luck gave the Lady Bearcats a five-run inning and ultimately the game.
Brianna Mort got things started on a error to open in the inning. She quickly stole second and reached third on a wild pitch. Toni Strait earned a walk and also stole second. Kiley Dubbs plated Mort on a single.
With Strait on third and Dubbs on first, the Lady Bearcats executed a textbook double steal. Dubbs took off for second and catcher Paige Dickey quickly tried to gun the runner out - as the ball left her had, Strait broke for home and tied the game at 2 while placing Dubbs on third. She later crossed home on another wild pitch.
"That is huge," Huntingdon coach Chris Patrick said. "Anytime a team is going to give you an extra out, you want to take full advantage of it. That is one of the things we preach to our defense. In this league, teams are too good to give an extra out to. Today, we took full advantage of their mistakes."
Huntingdon pitcher Morgan Glover helped her own cause, when she smacked a two-run single later in the inning, giving the Bearcats a 5-2 lead and stealing any momentum that Lady Wildcats had.
"I think it shows our team's resiliency," Patrick said. "We have fallen back early and battled back late in games. The girls have confidence that they are going to get hits and it was just a matter of time. Everything clicked for us."
Once the Lady Wildcats got out of the top half of the inning, things didn't get much better.
Twice in the inning, CM put runners on first, and twice, they were thrown out trying to steal second.
"An error, a couple of walks and hits and it just went downhill for us," coach Peters said. "Then in the bottom half of the inning, we had two girls thrown out without even sliding. Those mistakes can't happen for us. We didn't make a lot of mistakes, but the ones we did just bunched up on us.
"It seems like when Huntingdon stepped up and challenged us, we just stood there and took it. I am not sure what happened. I am disappointed. This is a game we felt like we should have won. Tip your hat to Huntingdon, they had one great inning. They took advantage of a miscue from us and our pitcher lost a little control. They were able to string a couple walks and hits together in that inning."
After the rocky first inning for Glover, she calmed down and finished with a complete game, seven hit win for the Bearcats.
"We told her to keep working through it," Patrick said of Glover's opening-inning woes. "Hit your locations and trust your defense, good things will happen. She has been on a roll lately. When she is around the strike zone, moving the ball in and out, she is able to keep the hitters off-balance. It was solid performance from her. She didn't have her best stuff early, but was able to stay accurate."
On the day, Central Mountain got some solid performances from underclassmen - especially freshman Strouse and sophomore Shady.
Strouse finished her day 2-for-2 with a double, a single and an RBI and made two diving catches at second to end potential Lady Bearcats threats.
"She is young," coach Peters said. "But she has the skill set to be successful and a great ballplayer. It is just a matter of being patient and letting things come together for her."
For Shady, she stepped in during the woeful fourth inning and completely closed down the Bearcat romp.
She worked 3 2-3 innings, giving up no hits and saw only one batter reach base while on the mound.
The Lady Wildcats will host Mifflin County Friday at Peddie Park.
"We have to refocus," coach Peters said. "Mifflin County is a good team and we have to be ready. We need a leader to step up and guide this team."
Mountain League Softball
CENTRAL MOUNTAIN 2
H 000 500 0 - 5 4 1
C 200 000 0 - 2 7 1
H: Morgan Glover and Brianna Mort. CM: Whitney Peters, Rachael Shady (4) and Paige Dickey. WP -Glover. LP -W. Peters. 2B: C, Britney Koch, Jessica Strouse. MH: C, Strouse, Dickey. Records: H 7-4, C 5-6.