Ishman, Lingenfelter's combined no-no opens All-Star season

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Punxsy starter Alli Ishman pitched five no-hit innings, and reliever Kylee Lingenfelter finished the job, pitching one inning to complete a combined no-hitter, and the Punxsy nine and 10-year-old softball All-Stars cruised to a 9-0 victory over Brockway in their opening game of the tournament.

Despite the strong pitching performance, though, Punxsy head coach Mike Ishman was sure to point out after the game that his team's victory came from a full-team effort.

"It was just one of those total team efforts," he said. "Of course, we know we need to live off our pitching, and we did just that. We kept them in the infield and made plays when we had to. We were also aggressive on the basepaths and at the plate. We hit the ball hard, and they made a lot of nice plays. But we were really hitting it well. It was just a fantastic team effort."

Although Punxsy was the host, Brockway won the coin toss and chose to be the home team, so Punxsy took first cuts.

Kate Horner stayed home on a slow pitch and blooped it over the second baseman's head to start the game off for Punxsy, but a pair of solid defensive plays on well-hit balls for Punxsy's next two hitters retired them.

No. 2 hitter Morgan VanLeer hit a sharp rope up the middle, but Brockway pitcher Adriana Azzato snagged it out of the air to prevent a hit up the middle, and Punxsy's next hitter, Ishman, hit a sharp grounder to second, which was fielded by Haley Rummel. Rummel threw on to first to retire Ishman, and Horner, who had stolen second base previously, advanced to third on the putout.

Cleanup hitter Danielle Bowser reached base after the first pitch she saw caught her in the foot, and she stole second base uncontested to put a pair in scoring position.

Unfortunately for Punxsy, another well-struck ball — this time by Morgan Adamson — was again snagged by a Brockway defender — this time first baseman Morgan Uhl — who scampered to the bag for the unassisted putout to end the inning with the score still knotted at zero.

Ishman wasted no time finding the strike zone in Punxsy's first defensive inning, as she struck out the side on the minimum number of pitches — nine.

Punxsy continued to struggle to figure out how to reach base against Azzato its first time through the lineup, as she retired the first two hitters, Jordyn Powell and Alli Lunger, on a comebacker and a strikeout.

No. 8 hitter McKenzie Atcheson managed to reach base on a walk, and Tessa Winebark put a pair on when she reached on an error. But a popout to the shortstop by Horner ended Punxsy's second-inning threat and brought Brockway back to the plate with another chance to crack the scoreboard.

Morgan Uhl was hit by a pitch to give Brockway its first baserunner, and Azzato moved her to second base on a perfectly-placed sacrifice bunt.

But Ishman went back to work, striking out Leah Lindenmuth for the second out of the inning, and Winebark made her first of many impressive throws from behind the plate to retire Uhl attempting to steal third base to end the inning. Its second time through the lineup, Punxsy saw much more success against Azzato, beginning with the third frame, when Punxsy put up a pair of runs.

VanLeer started it with a leadoff walk, and when Ishman hit her second sharp grounder to second, VanLeer was aggressive enough on the bases to continue to third on the throw over to retire Ishman.

Bowser reached base on a second hit batsman to put runners on the corners, and Morgan Adamson hit a rocket to the shortstop that was too hot to handle, allowing VanLeer to break the shutout and score Punxsy's first run.

Bowser advanced to third on the error to set up a perfectly-executed squeeze bunt by Jordyn Powell to plate Bowser and give Punxsy a 2-0 lead after two-and-a-half.

Brockway got its first runner to third base in the bottom of the frame, with a hit batsman and a walk putting two on and both runners moving up one base on a passed ball with two outs.

Ishman settled in, though, and struck out Rummel to end the inning and maintain Punxsy's two-run lead.

Punxsy doubled up in the top of the fourth, pushing its lead to 4-0.

Winebark got things rolling with a one-out single to right field, and on a ground out to first base by Horner, Winebark never stopped running until she ended up scoring Punxsy's third run of the day.

With the bases empty, VanLeer singled to reach base again, and Ishman helped her own cause with an RBI double to left field to score VanLeer.

Bowser finally got to take a cut at one without getting hit by it, and she delivered a single up the middle, but Ishman was thrown out on a close play at the plate for the third out while trying to score.

Leading 4-0, Ishman set the side down in order again, with one Brockway girl reaching base on an error. Winebark mowed her down again, though, as Uhl tried to steal second and Winebark put the ball right on the money to retire her for the second out of the inning. Ishman retired Azzato with a K to end the fourth, and Punxsy really piled on in the fifth, scoring a total of five while bringing eight to the plate.

Kim Shoemaker and Kerstin Nestel took advantage of some wild pitching, with each taking a walk to put a pair on and advancing to second and third on stolen bases.

Shoemaker came in to score on a sacrifice fly by Lunger, and after Lingenfelter drew a walk and kept running after rounding first, Nestel scored while Lingenfelter was caught in a pickle. After Nestel scored, Lingenfelter advanced safely to second base.

With two outs, Horner singled to put two on base, and VanLeer cleared the bases after reaching on an error by the second baseman. Brockway threw the ball around, and a pair of miscues allowed Horner to score from first, with VanLeer trotting home not far behind her.

With a solid 9-0 lead in hand, Punxsy turned to Lingenfelter to close out the game from the circle.

She walked the 1st hitter she saw in No. 9 hitter Morgan Hawley, but a third defensive gem by Winebark caught Hawley leaning off the base too far, and Ishman, who had moved to play first base, tagged her out for the first out.

"Tessa had a great game back there behind the plate," coach Ishman said after the game. "She has a strong arm coming out of the box, and every throw was right where it needed to be. It really helped us out."

After that, Lingenfelter went to work, striking out the final two batters to end the game and preserve the win.

Overall, Ishman was pleased with his team's performance, and he said after the game that the coaches and players will now turn their focus to the next game: A game against the winner of Sunday's game between Brookville and Ridgway.

"We want to live and die on our pitching," he said. "It will dominate the game in softball. Their pitcher was a little slower than we were used to, but overall we really came out firing. And now, we're ready for the winner of Brookville-Ridgway."