ShareThis Page

Miracle catch dooms Burrell softball

| Friday, June 11, 2010

BROCKWAY — From the moment the ball came off the bat, it seemed that Nina Spagnolo had given Burrell an early lead in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals against Philipsburg-Osceola.

It was a dying liner to center that would easily score Justine Damico from first and give the Bucs the first run of the game.

That was before Mounties center fielder Mary Harpster came flying in, dove to her right and speared the ball just before it hit the ground. She saved a run, swung the early momentum in Philipsburg-Osceola's favor and started the team toward a 5-1 victory over Burrell (18-4).

"I think that first inning, when we had one on, no outs and Spagnolo hits that ball to center field, that shot — and the catch that girl made — changed the whole course of this game. I guarantee it," Burrell coach Mike Spagnolo said. "If that goes through, and she's laid out like that, we're up, 1-0 or 2-0, and it's a different ball game. She made a game-saver."

Damico had drawn a walk off Philipsburg-Osceola starter Chelsea Rex to open the game, and Spagnolo had worked the count to 3-2 before she rifled the shot to center. After Harpster made the catch, though, Rex settled in and, after Damico was caught stealing, she struck out Kaitlyn Sweeney on four pitches to end the threat.

"I've been coaching 31 years and that's the best catch I've seen," Philipsburg-Osceola coach Jim Gonder said. "If she doesn't make that catch, they've got a run in and now who's (nervous)• That was a huge play early in the game."

It was one of only two hard-hit balls against Rex all afternoon, as the Mounties' starter was in control throughout. She only allowed one hit — a second-inning double to the right-center gap to mound counterpart Casey Moses — and struck out nine.

Burrell's only run against Rex was an unearned tally in the top of the seventh while she was holding on to a five-run lead. Moses also drove in the Bucs' lone run on a ground out.

Still, after missing out on the early opportunities, it was obvious that Burrell had lost a bit of its edge. Once the Bucs fell behind, 2-0, when Philipsburg-Osceola scored a pair in the third, though, they started to force the play.

That was especially evident at the plate, where they were no longer patient against Rex. The Bucs worked four full counts in the first two innings but only went full against Rex three other times in the final five.

"It seemed like the wind got knocked out of them, and they couldn't get it back," Mike Spagnolo said. "The way we played when we played the WPIAL final (against Valley), it was a slugfest back and forth ... and this team didn't show up today. They were a little tired, and they weren't ready. And I have to say they got outplayed. That's a good team out there."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me