Cameron's perfect game propels Rotary Reds

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Some nights, a pitcher just has wicked, nasty, unhittable "stuff," but even when that is the case, the hurler rarely pulls off the elusive perfect game. Monday night in Punxsutawney, the Rotary Reds' Senior League softball team's pitcher — Monica Cameron — did just that, though, retiring 15 straight hitters, as the offense poured on 11 runs in just four innings to lead the team to an 11-0, five-inning victory over Brockway Drug.

Adding to the evidence that Cameron possessed the "wicked, nasty stuff" that is so rare was her line: Five innings with 12 strikeouts.

Only three Brockway hitters even managed to put the ball in play — including a weak bunt pop-up to Cameron, a groundout to first and a soft pop-up caught by third baseman Keeley Dubensky in foul territory.

None of the Reds' outfielders even saw a ball throughout the entire game.

In the top of the first, Brockway's leadoff hitter, Anndi Bartlett, drilled a grounder to Rotary first baseman Amber Carlson, who handled the ball easily and retired Bartlett unassisted.

From that point forward, though, Cameron's fastball looked unhittable, and her changeup kept Brockway off guard. In fact, Cameron struck out the next seven hitters she faced over a three-inning span.

Meanwhile, the Reds' offense was consistent, scoring a pair in each of the first two innings.

In the first innings, the action didn't even start until Brockway pitcher Domi Martino recorded the first two hitters on groundouts.

But Lexxi Cielo got things rolling with a two-out single up the middle. Cielo stole second, and Savanna Hallman drove her in with a sharply-struck double off the third baseman's glove.

Dubensky kept things going with the first of three straight walks, and with Cameron at the dish, Hallman stole third base and scored on a wild pitch to put the Punxsy squad ahead 2-0.

Martino walked the bases full, but managed a groundout on a come-backer to retire the side.

Cameron struck out the side against Brockway, and the Reds returned to their scoring ways by adding two more in the home half of the second.

Shania DeFoor started it with a leadoff walk, and although she was retired on a fielder's choice when a pop-up fell in between two infielders, her replacement — Caley Burkett — was moved to third by an Autumn Rega single.

Cielo grounded out on a sharp hit to the shortstop, and on the throw to first, Burkett scampered home.

Hallman hit another grounder to short, and this time it was too hot to handle, allowing Rega to score.

Dubensky added a single to put a pair on base, but Martino managed to get out of the jam with no further damage done.

Cameron struck out the first two she faced in the top of the third, and Dubensky ended the inning with a putout, but Punxsy couldn't muster a run in the home half despite another walk by DeFoor and a single by Burkett.

After Cameron set the side down in order again in the fourth, though, the Reds' offense really started rolling, bringing 12 hitters to the plate in the fourth and plating seven runs to take an 11-0 lead.

It all started with a frozen-rope triple by Cielo to right-center field, and with her on third, the Reds' showed some patience at the plate, as Hallman and Dubensky each took walks to load the bases for Cameron.

Cameron helped her own cause with a two-RBI single directly up the middle — in fact, it bounced off second base — to plate Cielo and Hallman.

Morgan Miller kept things rolling with a one-out, RBI single to score Dubensky, and DeFoor followed by hitting another too hot to handle grounder to short, allowing Cameron to score on an overthrow.

With the Reds ahead 8-0, they needed just two more runs to put them over the 10-run threshold and set up a mercy rule situation in the top of the fifth.

And Rega delivered exactly what they needed with a two-RBI single that dropped just in front of the center fielder.

Rega stole second and added an insurance run for the Reds' mercy rule hopes when she scored as a fly ball to left by Hallman was dropped.

Facing the meat of the Brockway lineup in the top of the fifth, Cameron proved to be up to the challenge to complete her perfect game — although the Brockway hitters did start to get a beat on her fastball.

No. 4 hitter Julie Esposito led off the inning by fouling off a number of pitches for a long at-bat, but Cameron managed to strike her out and added No. 5 hitter Adrianna Terwilliger to her K-list, as well.

Just one out away from perfection, her counterpart on the mound, Martino hit a rope down the first-base line, but it was foul by 15 feet when it finally touched down, and Cameron managed to throw the next pitch past Martino to seal the deal.

The Reds will hope to keep the momentum rolling as they enter their next contest Friday against Veolia at the Highland Street fields.