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Lady Chucks win a dramatic duel at St. Marys

April 4, 2012

Punxsy senior Alex Magill keeps her eye on the ball as she fouls off a pitch in Punxsy's season opener against Bradford March 26 in Punxsutawney. Wednesday night, Magill dropped down a perfect squeeze bunt to put Punxsy ahead in the top of the seventh inning in a 2-1 Lady Chucks' win. (Photo by Zak Lantz of The Punxsutawney Spirit)

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Lady Chucks this year seem to have a flair for the dramatic — especially one Lady Chuck, in particular.

After hitting a pair of buzzer-beating, game-winning shots in her senior campaign for basketball, Alex Magill played a key role in the Lady Chucks' 2-1 win over the St. Marys Lady Dutch Wednesday in St. Marys.

With two outs in the top of the seventh and a runner on third — fellow senior Tori Martin — Magill successfully squeezed Martin home and reached first for just the third Punxsy hit of the game.

With the score tied, Martin started the seventh inning with a leadoff walk. She was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Janie Depp-Hutchinson.

But after a strikeout, St. Marys was one out away from retiring the side, and Martin was still on second.

Luckily for the Lady Chucks, a passed ball allowed Martin to advance to third, setting up the gutsy play call by Punxsy head coach Alan Pifer.

"I told Alex we're going to start calling her 'Flair' Magill, because she just seems to have a flair for the dramatic," Pifer said. "First, she hit those buzzer-beaters in basketball season, and now she lays down the perfect bunt for us just when we needed it."

Not to be overshadowed in the dramatic game, though, was one of Punxsy's go-to pitchers, Randa Depp, who threw a complete game, allowed just one run and struck out 10 St. Marys' hitters.

"I've seen Randa throw a lot of really good games, and this one might have been her best," Pifer said. "She didn't walk anybody, she had 10 strikeouts and had all her pitches working really well."

Making her performance even more impressive was the fact that she had to play through some adversity.

With two outs in the sixth inning, Depp was struck with a line drive off the bat of Raelyn Cunningham, which deflected to first baseman Depp-Hutchinson for the third out.

Pifer said he wasn't sure if Depp would be able to return to the game, but he had a feeling she'd do her best to come back.

"Knowing the competitor she is, I thought she'd give it a go, and she gutted it out," he said. "We were warming up Ashley Bacha just in case, but although she was hurting, Randa took the mound in the seventh and retired St. Marys one, two, three to close out the game."

St. Marys' pitcher, Rachael Ginther, was "no slouch either," in the words of Pifer, throwing a complete game and allowing just three hits.

She also struck out 10, but it was the seventh-inning leadoff walk to Martin that proved to be the difference- maker.

Punxsy's first run came right off the bat in the top of the first.

Leadoff hitter Chelsea Engeholm started the game with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ashley Walls.

Engeholm moved up to third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout by Johnna Depp.

St. Marys' only run came in the second inning, leaving the game knotted at one for four innings before the flair for the dramatic set in.

One thing in particular stood out to Pifer that he's been waiting on all season: His defense played solidly from start to finish to stay in the close contest.

"The key for us was to play good defense, and it was good tonight," Pifer said. "When they did put the bat on the ball off of Randa, we made the plays, and that was important against a solid team like St. Marys."

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