Lady Eagles stun Mount Union to open district softball tournament

The Tyrone Lady Eagle softball team proved an old sports adage was true in Thursday’s first round of the District VI Softball Tournament at Mount Union. “It’s tough to beat a team three times in the same season.”
The Lady Eagles, seeded number 11, jumped on sixth seed Mount Union for four huge first-inning tallies and rode senior ace Hilary McNelis’ three-hit pitching performance to a 6-1 win. During the regular season the Lady Trojans had knocked the Tyrone girls off twice, winning a pair of close games, 4-2 at Tyrone and 2-1 at Mount Union.
“That big first inning, and particularly the second run, which they practically gave us by walking in the run, was big,” explained Tyrone softball coach Lois Loncher. “That took the pressure off Hilary on the mound and off our defense. In a playoff game especially, scoring early puts a lot of pressure on the other team. The big key was the four runs we scored in the first inning.”
Katie Whitby, who led all batters with three hits and three runs scored, led off the top of the first with a base hit and then moved to second base on a passed ball. Hilary McNelis scored Katie with a single, and Eagle catcher Kim Cherry was safe on an error. After Missy Stager forced out McNelis with a fielder’s choice, Megan Turiano reached on another error to load the bases. Heather Stanton walked to score Cherry with the second run. Stager scored on a wild pitch and Meghan McAllister walked. An infield hit by Ashley Ripka got Turiano home with the final run of the inning.
“We didn’t just ride that big first inning, we kept at them,” said Loncher, whose team added single runs in the second and fourth innings, to offset a solo tally by Mount Union in the second inning. “Katie Whitby was on fire at bat and Megan Turiano scooped up everything that was hit to her at third base.”
McNelis allowed just one run, scattering three singles, with two strikeouts and three walks.
Cherry drove in both of the later runs to aid her teammates, who will now travel to Philipsburg, for a Monday game against third seed Philipsburg-Osceola. The Lady Eagles split a pair of regular season games with P-O. In a pair of four-run decisions, the Tyrone girls won the first at Philipsburg 5-1 and the Lady Mounties won 8-4 at Tyrone.
The Lady Trojans lone score in the second came when Krisha Feathers singled to knock in Emily Brown.
Brittany Smith took the loss for the Mount Union girls, striking out two and walking three.
Mount Union was playing without head coach Matt Fiscus, who was ejected for disputing a call in the Lady Trojans last regular season game and thus was also suspended for this one as well. Assistant coach Tessa McConnell and volunteer coach Ed Morrison led Mount Union on Thursday.
“We will go to Philipsburg on Monday and get to see what we can do over there,” remarked Loncher.
Tyrone 6 Mount Union 1
Tyrone – Whitby, cf, 4-3-3; McNelis, p, 3-0-1; Cherry, c, 4-1-1; Stager, ss, 4-1-0; Turiano, 3b, 3-1-0; Stanton, 1b, 1-0-1; McAllister, dp, 2-0-1; Ripka, lf, 3-0-1; Pennebaker, rf, 3-0-0; Bryan, 2b, 0-0-0. TOTALS 27-6-8.
Mount Union – Crolise, lf, 2-0-0; Kiting lf-p, 2-0-0; Smith, p, 2-0-0; Grove, ph, 1-0-1; Aurand, 2b,1-0-0; Price, ss, 3-0-0; Brown, 3b, 2-1-0; Feathers, cf, 3-0-1; Morrison, c, 1-0-0; Norris, ph, 1-0-0; Knepp, rf, 3-0-1; Melnyk, 1b, 1-0-0; Lantz, 1b, 2-0-0. TOTALS 24-1-3.
Tyrone 410 100 0 6-8-2.
Mount Union 010 000 0 1-3-4.
Multiple hits: (T) Whitby 3.
RBI: (T) Cherry 2, McNelis, Stanton, Ripka, (MU) Feathers.
SO: (T) McNelis 2, (MU) Smith 2.
BB: (T) McNelis 3, (MU) Smith 3.
WP: McNelis LP: Smith.