LOCK HAVEN - Dave Peters could not have asked for much more out of his band of Lady Wildcats yesterday.
His pitchers combined for a no-hitter against Philipsburg-Osceola. The Central Mountain batters earned seven hits off a stingy pitcher and scored three runs on the defending Class AA state champion Lady Mounties.
Add that all up and most the time you have a victory.
Most of the time.
Yesterday, when P-O came into Allison Township was an exception - as the Lady Mounties walked out of a rainy Peddie Park with a 4-3 victory.
"This is the best this team has played all season," Peters said. "We came in prepared, worked hard and listened. We battled to the very end and we had our chances. "
The big difference today?
During the first five innings of play, CM starting pitcher Whitney Peters held the Lady Mounties in check - giving up one run (unearned).
Then the skies over Peddie Park let loose.
Whitney Peters ran into trouble managing the conditions - issuing three walks and hitting a batter en route to a three-run inning.
"The conditions got to Whit a little," coach Peters said. "She had trouble working her curveball. When she lost that pitch, she lost some rhythm. Her plant foot started to slide and it hurt her control some."
For P-O pitcher Kate Burge, the conditions were just as unkind in the bottom of the sixth - as the rock steady junior allowed two runs and four hits in the frame.
"That wasn't a fair field," P-O coach Jim Gonder said. "It wasn't good for either team. For both teams, the weather came into play. It was a well-played game for five innings and then the weather took a turn for the worse."
Bad weather or not, Central Mountain certainly had its chances to break the game open.
In the first inning, the Lady Wildcats stranded two runners - both in scoring position.
In the second, they left another two on. One left on base in the third.
But it would ultimately be the sixth that hurt the most, as the Wildcats' inning ended with the bases loaded.
In total, nine runners would be left on base - six of them in scoring position.
"We spent a lot of time on our defense," Gonder said. "When it is time to step it up, we make a play. We did the same thing against Bellefonte last week. When the pressure is turned up, these girls respond. We gutted one out today."
Central Mountain gave Burge all she handle, working her into tough spots time and again. Each time the Wildcats put pressure on her, she responded.
"We hit the ball today," coach Peters said. "Last game, she mowed down seven of the first nine batters. Today, we had good at-bats. We laid off bad pitches. We are getting better and adjusting to quality pitching. When we look back at the last game, we hurt ourselves a lot. We swung at pitches out of the zone. Today, we stay disciplined and hit the ball hard. I can live with that. The girls worked the pitcher and got the count in their favor."
Burge finished the game with four strikeouts, three of them to end an inning.
"Kate threw a great game," Gonder said. "Defensively, we played great behind her. We just need to kick start the hitters."
For Central Mountain, this game is fair assessment of how their season has been going.
A few untimely miscues and forces outside of their control cost them a victory.
The miscues came in the second inning - back-to-back throwing errors put runners on base and a wild pitch advanced one of them across the plate.
With one run in and another runner on third, the Lady Wildcats stood their ground and played smart ball.
A heads-up play by Kayla Glossner and great pitching by Whitney Peters, CM got out of the inning with no more damage.
"We worked those scenarios yesterday," coach Peters said. "We practiced putting runners on different bases and what we needed to do. Today, the executed it well. Kayla made a great play and Whitney worked her way out of trouble nicely."
For all the miscues and terrible weather, the Lady Wildcats had a chance in the bottom of seventh.
With the sun poking through the Clinton County sky, Jessica Strouse laced an inning-opening triple to the right-center field gap.
After a line-drive out by Glossner, Shady earned a free pass to first.
First and third, winning run at the plate, one out and the winning run coming to the plate - in the form of speedy junior Johnna Garbrick.
"We had a bunt call on," coach Peters said. "The batter knew the pitch was out of the zone and the runner went with her instincts. It was a close call at second. I will live with being aggressive. If Averi (Shaffer - courtesy runner for Shady) got into second, it is a different outcome."
Close or not, Shaffer was called out on a throw to second by P-O catcher Carly Gonder.
While Strouse would score from third on the play, the lost base runner would ultimately end the Wildcat threat and seal the game for Burge and the Lady Mounties.
Central Mountain will be back in action on Saturday, as it hosts Thunder on the Mountain.
Mountain League Softball
PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA 4, CENTRAL MOUNTAIN 3
P 010 003 0 - 4 1 0
C 000 002 1 - 3 7 2
P: Kate Burge and Carly Gonder. C: Whitney Peters, Rachael Shady (6) and Paige Dickey. WP - Burge. LP -Peters. 3B: C, Jessica Strouse. MH: C, Ciarra Peters. Records: P 9-3. C 5-8.