One bad inning runs Lady Chucks out of playoffs

NORTH ALLEGHENY โ€” Entering the opening round of the PIAA Class AAA State Championship tournament, the Lady Chucks knew what was ahead of them: A solid hitting team in the Lady Spartans of Moniteau and a steady pitcher they'd have to make contact against.

Unfortunately for the Lady Chucks, that steady pitcher, Kaitlyn Kutchman, pitched a complete game, walking none, striking out ten and allowing just one run on three hits, and Montour earned a 4-1 victory behind three unearned runs in the fifth inning.

"The telltale inning was the fifth, when Randa's control wasn't quite as good as it has been at times in the past," Punxsy head coach Alan Pifer said.

Depp led off the inning by walking a Montour hitter, which is uncharacteristic for her, and as Pifer cited, that is something that almost always comes back to haunt a pitcher.

"Any time you walk the first hitter, it just seems to come back to get you," he said. "It seems like they score just about every time."

After walking the first hitter and allowing a single to the second, Depp fielded a come-backer, but her throw to third got away allowing a run to score.

She struck out the next two hitters, but the Lady Spartans pushed two more across the plate with two outs โ€” both of which were unearned runs โ€” to take a 4-1 lead.

Despite the end result, it was the Lady Chucks who jumped out on top first in the third inning, with senior Johnnna Depp leading off the inning with a single.

Depp advanced to second on a stolen base and to third on an illegal pitch before she was driven in by Sydney Phillips on a sacrifice fly to center field.

Ivy Phillips and Ashley Bacha also had hits for the Lady Chucks, but they were unable to plate another run from that point forward.

"We have to give them credit," Pifer said. "They were a good team, and we just weren't able to put the bat on the ball."

Despite the loss, Pifer had positive things to say about his team's 2012 campaign after the game.

"I'm still happy with the season we had and the way the girls performed," he said. "Like I'd said a long time ago, we were young and inexperienced, and they exceeded our expectations. They made Punxsy proud in winning another district title."

With the squad being a young team this year, Pifer had said from the beginning he didn't know what to expect. But the solid performance of the JV squad this year and the varsity team's success despite the youth are both promising signs. But Pifer also paused to recognize the seniors who played their final game Monday.

"We lose five good seniors, and we appreciate everything they did for us in the four years they played here. They were all excellent team players."

Before he closed, there was one final group Pifer wanted to thank.

"I also want to thank the parents and the fans for all their support through the season," he said. "It was a great year, and we hate to see it end a little early. But we look to be back, and I look forward to next year."