Ishman says, 'No' again, sets up Punxsy/DuBois rematch
PUNXSUTAWNEY — Alli Ishman threw her second no-hitter of the 11- and 12-year-old softball All-Star tournament to out-duel fellow pitcher Maddie Loutzenheiser — who didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning — in Punxsy's 2-0 win over Warren in the District X losers' bracket final Wednesday in Punxsutawney.
With the win, Punxsy set up a rematch with DuBois, which knocked Punxsy into the losers' bracket Monday with a walk-off, 3-2 victory. Punxsy hopes to avenge the loss to DuBois Friday, when it travels there for the second time this week, and set up a rubber match for the District X crown.
Ishman's only baserunner allowed — the only thing between her and a perfect game — came on a first-inning error, when Warren's No. 3 hitter Rachel Wilson reached after a swinging third strike hit the ground.
She moved to second on a passed ball, but Ishman struck out cleanup hitter Taige Honhart to retire the side.
And from that point forward, Ishman was perfect. Unfortunately for Punxsy, Loutzenhiser was just about as unhittable through the first four innings as Ishman was.
Despite not managing any hits in the first four innings, Punxsy had at least one baserunner in every frame, and in the first three innings, the host stranded a runner at third.
In the first, it was No. 2 hitter Morgan VanLeer, who reached on a walk and stole second before advancing to third on a 5-3 putout. Danielle Bowser popped out to third, though, to end the inning, and Loutzenheiser's shutout was maintained.
In the second, Punxsy had two baserunners, with McKenzie Atcheson reaching on a two-out walk and Kate Horner being hit by a pitch.
Atcheson moved up to third on a passed ball, but again, she was stranded there.
In the third, Ishman's walk was the only blemish on Loutzenheiser's record, and special pinch-runner Atcheson advanced to third on a stolen base and an E6. Bowser struck out with a runner in scoring position, though, and another zero was added to the scoreboard.
Punxsy went down in order in the fourth before Horner picked up the game's first hit with a single. Alli Lunger laid down what Punxsy head coach Mike Ishman called "a perfect sacrifice bunt" to move Horner to third, and she came in to score on a single by leadoff hitter Tessa Winebark.
Punxsy had cracked the scoreboard, but it wasn't done quite yet, as Morgan VanLeer reached on a third Punxsy single.
Ishman hit into a fielder's choice, and Bowser walked to load the bases before Morgan Adamson drove one down the right field line. The ball was misplayed by the first baseman, and Punxsy's second run crossed the plate in VanLeer.
With a two-run cushion, Ishman took no chances, setting the side down in order one last time on a pair of groundouts and a strikeout to end the game and give Punxsy its shot at the king seed.
"We just played great in all areas tonight," coach Ishman said. "We made some great defensive plays behind Alli, including a nice bare-handed, charging play by Kylee Lingenfelter in the fourth inning. It was just a great full-team effort again."