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Venues and levels altered. South Williamsport softball players have earned big-game experience at every level.

The Mounties have won three state tournament games and two District 4 Class AA crowns in the previous two seasons. Most of these guys played on the 12U Eastern Region champion at the 2019 Little League World Series, which was televised to millions. They have played major games in travel leagues and high school.

Today’s fresh, but the mood isn’t. South (21-2) plays Bald Eagle Area in the state playoffs at Central Mountain High School this afternoon. BEA has big-game experience, reaching last year’s Class AAA state playoffs, but it helps to have gone through this before.

First baseman Abby Lorson said their schedule has prepared them for the teams they’ll face later. “We’re ready for these big games. We’re more conformable since we’ve played in huge games.”

South coach Tom O’Malley noted, “They’ve played a lot of big games.”

So far. Aleigha Rieppel, the sole senior, has led the team. The six sophomores started last year when South won its first district title since 2014 and reached the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2014. After last year’s success, all returnedees and new freshmen had devoted offseasons, helping South advance.

The playoffs immediately tested South, so the work and experience were crucial. In the district quarterfinals, East Juniata led South 2–0 in the sixth. South, the top seed, may have collapsed.

Instead, Kendall Cardone and Lily Reidy hit home runs, Mikaiya Hills doubled, and Gianna Goodman scored the winning run.

Troy had two, two-run semifinal leads a week later. Troy tied it in the sixth after South went ahead. South maintained calm and took the lead in the bottom of the fifth to win another one-run thriller. South defeated Mid-Penn winner Muncy, 3-1, in the district final.

“Having had those big games and experienced that before helps,” Cardone added. “We’ve all played together and been through things before.”

South, like BEA, scheduled challenging, bigger schools in its regular season. At the Williamsport Tournament, the Mounties defeated Bellefonte, HAC-III, and Williamsport. District 6 Class AAAAA winner Central Mountain also forced extra innings.

South’s postseason preparation included those games. South faces that today, thus the more experience gained this season and in prior years assists entering this game.

Challenges are what Mounties live for and make the game enjoyable.

Exposure to this and previous postseason games generates something equally significant. Years of expertise have built trust and confidence. Teammates trust each other because they have seen them succeed in important softball moments.

South is a family. They stick together despite everything. In the postseason, that’s crucial. South would not exist without it.

“We play really well together because we’re so close,” Lorson added. I love sharing anything with my dearest pals. I never question anyone because I know how powerful each player is.”

BEA is new and difficult. South plays its favorite game with its favorite teammates. Experience has hardened and bonded these Mounties.

“We’re excited since we made it further than last year,” Cardone remarked. “I think everyone is pumped and ready.”

By Sanjh

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