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Horner, Aikens combine for Punxsy no-hitter

July 2, 2011

Pitcher Grace Aikens (right) and catcher Jazzmine Hadden celebrate after recording the final out in Punxsy's 12-0 win over Ridgway Friday in Punxsutawney. (Photo by Zak Lantz/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

Kate Horner pitched three no-hit innings, and Grace Aikens relieved her with two perfect innings, helping Punxsy cruise to an 12-0 victory in five innings Friday over Ridgway in the losers' bracket of the Minor League softball All-Star tournament in Punxsutawney.

Punxsy manager Steve White was very pleased with the way his girls pitched.

"They pitched with a lot more confidence tonight," he said. "I felt that they found the strike zone early and were able to build off that."

Horner, Punxsy's starting pitcher, struggled a bit with her control, walking one batter and hitting four.

But she was able to stay out of trouble and finished the game with six strikeouts.

Punxsy won the coin toss, electing to be the visiting team, and jumped out to an early lead. Despite the fact that it was unable to register a hit in the first inning, Punxsy took advantage of every base runner and put three runs on the board.

Jazzmine Hadden led off the game with a walk, stole second and third, and scored on an error on the throw to third.

Horner also walked, her first of three walks in the game, and scored on a passed ball.

Chelsea Snyder reached base on an error, stole second, and scored on a two-base error when shortstop Georgia Lineberger threw the ball past third base.

Aggressive base running was a theme for Punxsy throughout the game, as it managed only six hits but scored 11 runs.

Horner struck out three batters in the first inning and the next two in the second inning before Ridgway put its first ball in play.

No. 9 hitter Vanessa Koller hit a sharp line drive between second and third, and Punxsy third baseman Tonya Jones made a great play to keep Ridgway hitless.

White was glad to see the improvement in his team's defense compared to its fielding in a loss to DuBois Monday.

"The job we did in the field was much better," he said. "We looked much more confident and much more relaxed."

Punxsy tallied its first hit in the second inning when Hadden singled, and Elyse White followed suit with a single of her own. Punxsy ended up with two runs in the second, both scored on passed balls.

Punxsy added one more run in the third inning when Lakyn Smith walked with the bases loaded, making the score 6-0.

In the fourth, Punxsy scored three runs on one hit. Horner got Punxsy started with a walk, and Aikens walked to put two runners on base. Snyder then delivered with a two-run single to center field, and Snyder scored on an RBI groundout to first base by Jones.

Aikens relieved Horner in the fourth inning and struck out the side in order.

In the fifth, Punxsy got some help from Ridgway when Mia Lingenfelter reached base on an error by the shortstop, and Hadden reached on an error by the right fielder.

Punxsy capitalized with an RBI single by White and an RBI groundout to the right-fielder, playing on the edge of the grass.

Aikens finished the scoring for Punxsy by belting a triple over the left fielder's head, driving in White.

"We've got a couple kids that have some pop in their bats and can really hit the ball," manager White said. "Whether it's a triple or a bunt single, we've got to put kids on base, and we did that tonight in a lot of different ways."

White said he plans to give his girls tonight off to enjoy the parade and other festivities in town, but they'll be right back to work with practices Sunday and Monday to prepare for their game Tuesday.

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