Better late than never: Punxsy rallies for victory

CURWENSVILLE โ€” After five innings Friday night in Curwensville, the Lady Chucks softball team trailed the Golden Tide 3-1, but a bit of offensive spark from some unfamiliar faces at the varsity level led Punxsy to a come-from-behind, 5-3 victory in the end.

Facing the two-run deficit, Punxsy's Johnna Depp led off the top of the sixth inning with a single, and Sydney Phillips followed with a walk.

Ashley Bacha attempted to put down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners, but when Curwensville tried to retire the runner at third base and failed, Punxsy was in business with the bases loaded and no outs.

A pair of strikeouts appeared to put Curwensville back in business, but with two outs and the bases still full, Punxsy turned to pitch hitter Ivy Phillips for her first varsity at-bat. Phillips showed no signs of jitters, though, as she roped a double down the left field line to drive in a pair and tie the game for the Lady Chucks.

"You really can't say enough about that clutch hit by a freshman in her first varsity at-bat," Punxsy head coach Alan Pifer said after the game. "I know she was nervous, but she really came through."

Punxsy wasn't finished in its half of the frame, either, as pinch hitter Lauren Wolfe stepped to the plate and came through with a sharply-hit single up the middle off the pitcher's leg to plate Bacha and give Punxsy the lead.

Punxsy pitcher Randa Depp set down Curwensville in the sixth inning, and Punxsy added an insurance run in the seventh to set the final at 5-3.

Janie Depp-Hutchinson led off the frame with a single โ€” her second hit of the game โ€” and Nicole DiPietro entered for her as a pinch runner.

After DiPietro advanced to second on a wild pitch, Sydney Phillips drove her in with a double to center field.

While Punxsy typically leans on Depp's solid pitching, it was the sticks that picked up a bit of a slow start for Depp to earn her the victory.

Her statistics weren't all that bad, though. She pitched seven innings, allowed three runs on seven hits and struck out seven.

"Randa kind of started off slow, getting behind the hitters more than she usually does," Pifer said. "She was getting hit quite a bit early, but toward the end of the game, she seemed to get stronger. Knowing that kid the way I do, the adrenaline kicked in, and she turned it up a notch in those last few innings after we got the lead."

Offensively, Punxsy was led by Depp-Hutchinson and leadoff hitter Chelsea Engeholm, who each had two hits.

Depp-Hutchinson's first hit was a double. Engeholm reached base to lead off the game and scored Punxsy's first run.

Overall, Pifer was pleased with his squad's "full-team effort."

"It was a nice comeback win," he said. "We were leaving too many girls on base early. But I told the girls at the end of the game in the dugout that everyone who came off the bench contributed, whether defensively or pinch hitting. That was encouraging."

The Lady Chucks will return to action Tuesday when they host the Lady Dutch of St. Marys at 4:15 p.m.