Neal homers, Depp twirls shutout, 5-0

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Randa Depp pitched her third-straight shutout, Hannah Neal hit a two-run home run, and the Punxsy softball team avenged an earlier loss when it defeated State College Thursday afternoon at Harry Noerr Field, 5-0.

"We wanted to exact a little revenge (on State College)," Punxsy manager Alan Pifer said. "We were flat over there when we played them. We were pumped up today."

Depp has been dominant as of late. In her last three starts, she shut out Class AAAA State College and District IX Class AAA rivals St. Marys and Clearfield. She threw all seven innings during each of those wins and allowed just nine hits total.

Thursday, Depp struck out six, walked one and gave up two hits while just one Lady Little Lion reached third base.

"She had another good outing. She's in a groove right now," Pifer said. "Her pitches are working for her, and from a coaching standpoint, it's nice to have a pitcher who's dialed in like that who can throw any pitch you want for strikes and is able to hit her spots."

Every next victory is huge for the Lady Chucks, who improved to 9-3 on the season. They're currently battling St. Marys (10-3) and Clearfield (6-10) for the No. 1 seed in the District IX Class AAA playoffs.

Punxsy totaled nine hits in the game Thursday, including three from Jenna Reitz and two from Neal. But no hit was larger than the one that Neal hit during the fourth inning.

With two outs and Ashley Barenchik on second base, Neal lifted a Haley Shaw pitch over the left-field fence to improve the Lady Chucks' lead to 5-0.

"Hannah's been hitting the ball consistently pretty much all year," Pifer said. "It was nice to see her get a home run. It was a nice, easy swing."

Reitz, Punxsy's third baseman, was 3-for-3 with a run and an RBI. She scored on a Johnna Depp double in the second inning and singled home Shawnna Crago in the third inning.

"Reitz had a nice game," Pifer said. "She has been consistent all year defensively. To get her bat back was nice."

Kristen Fedder's sacrifice fly scored Megan Muth during the second inning for Punxsy's other run.

Emilee Eden and Dani Hart each singled for State College. Hart also drew a walk to lead off the fourth inning after Randa Depp retired the Lady Little Lions' first nine batters in order.

Eden reached third base with two outs in the fifth inning, but Haley Brown was struck out looking to end State College's best scoring chance.

The Lady Chucks will host Ligonier Valley at 4:15 p.m. today and visit Smethport at noon Saturday to finish out the week. Punxsy will then host Hollidaysburg at 4:15 p.m. Monday, visit Bradford at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, host Brookville in a doubleheader at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday and visit Altoona at 4:15 p.m. next Thursday.