PUNXSUTAWNEY — As the Senior Little League softball schedule winds down, Punxsy's pitchers' arms are heating up, as was evidenced Monday evening in Punxsutawney, where Shania DeFoor threw a complete-game one-hitter to lead the ProForm Devil Rays past Fox's Pizza Den, of Brookville, 13-0 in five innings.
In addition to DeFoor's solid pitching performance, the Devil Rays' offense poured on 13 runs over just four trips to the plate.
Things started off a little shaky for DeFoor, as she hit the first batter she faced, Fox's MacKenzie Ganoe, with a pitch, but her battery mate — catcher Amber Ward — gunned down Ganoe attempting to steal second for the first out of the inning.
DeFoor managed to strike out Nicole Dempsey for the second out, but a fielding blunder and another hit batsman allowed Elaina Powell and Hali Olson to reach base with two down. DeFoor pitched out of the jam, though, by striking out Elliette Park to retire the side.
ProForm wasted no time jumping on Fox's starter, Dempsey, with a pair of runs in the home half to take a 2-0 lead.
Brayden Woodrow led off the inning with a walk, and Haley Schepis moved her to second with a single. DeFoor hit a sharp grounder to third, and Woodrow was retired on a nice play by Jordan MacWilliams, but a wild pitch with Ward in the box moved both Schepis and DeFoor into scoring position.
Ward came through in the clutch with a two-RBI single to left field, and she advanced to second on the throw home. Sam Satterlee followed with a single of her own, but it was hit so sharply Ward had to stop at third. Satterlee stole second base uncontested, but the runners were stranded at that point, as Dempsey caught a sharp liner up the middle off the bat of Shay Hixon and forced Katie Weaver into a groundout.
The visiting squad managed another pair of runners in the second frame on a one-out walk to Abby Blochberger and a two-out single by No. 9 hitter MacWilliams — Fox's only hit of the game. But again, with a pair of runners on, DeFoor worked her way out of the bind with a strikeout — this time getting leadoff hitter Ganoe.
ProForm doubled its score in the bottom of the second, pushing its lead to 4-0.
Kassi Niver led things off with an infield single, and Taylor Medsger ripped one to left field for the team's second consecutive hit.
Woodrow popped out to the shortstop on a nice over-the-shoulder catch by Powell. But a fielder's choice off the bat of Schepis led to everyone being safe, and Niver came around to score on the play.
DeFoor reached base on an errant throw at third base, and Ward drove in a run with a single for her third RBI, plating Medsger.
With one out, it seemed as if the Rays were in business, but a misunderstanding on a hard-hit ball by Satterlee led to an inning-ending double play.
She hit a sharp liner toward the shortstop, Powell, who short-hopped it and ran to second to retire Ward. Thinking the ball had been caught, DeFoor was returning to second, and upon realizing the play had been made there, Powell threw over to third, allowing DeFoor to think she was forced out.
In fact, she had to be tagged, so she was safe, but when she trotted off the field, she gave herself up and was called out, ending the inning in a confusing fashion, but with the Punxsy squad ahead 4-0, nonetheless.
Fox's was able to manufacture another runner in scoring position despite no hits in the third, as Powell drew a one-out walk. She advanced to second base on a wild pitch, and moved to third on a grounder by Olson. But she was left hanging there, as Park grounded out to DeFoor on a nice defensive play by the pitcher.
ProForm had its most productive inning in the third, bringing 10 hitters to the plate and managing to push six of them across.
Hard-throwing relief pitcher Hannah Simpson entered the game for Fox's, and despite throwing much harder than her teammate, she also struggled to rein in the control, walking the first three hitters she faced in Hixon, Weaver and Niver.
She picked up her first out on a nifty fielder's choice where she fielded a grounder herself and threw home to beat the runner and keep the Rays off the board to that point.
But a bases-loaded, RBI walk to Woodrow opened the floodgates for ProForm.
Niver followed quickly by scoring on a wild pitch, and Schepis kept up her hot hitting with a two-RBI single to plate Medsger and Woodrow and give her squad an 8-0 lead.
DeFoor singled to move Schepis to third, and with DeFoor stealing second on the next pitch, Schepis came home to score when the ball slipped out of the catcher's hand on a bluff throw.
DeFoor finished off the scoring by coming in to score on another wild pitch, and the home team's lead was 10-0 after three complete.
DeFoor got two quick outs before allowing another baserunner via a walk, but a quick groundout by pinch hitter Sarah Dempsey ended the threat and kept the shutout in tact.
Already ahead by the 10 runs needed to complete a mercy rule after four-and-a-half, ProForm added three more insurance runs — ones it wouldn't need — in the bottom of the fourth.
Niver reached base on a one-out walk, and after a pop up to second base, Leaonna Lisa walked to put two on base.
Both runners moved up one more base on a wild pitch, and Schepis drove in her fourth and fifth runs of the evening with another two-RBI single, completing a 3-for-4, five RBI night.
DeFoor followed suit with an RBI double over the left fielder's head to set the score at 13-0 before Ward was retired by an outstanding defensive play by Olson, who caught a foul ball over her shoulder right at the fence to end the inning.
Three outs away from the shutout, DeFoor struggled a bit with her control against pinch-hitter Kristen Teeter, allowing her to reach with a walk. But she struck out Dempsey for the first out of the inning.
Another walk to Powell allowed the second base-runner of the inning, but Teeter was retired on the next at-bat when Olson grounded back to DeFoor, who threw to third to get the lead runner.
Park represented Fox's final chance, and DeFoor was able to get her to ground out on a comebacker to end the game.
ProForm hopes to continue its winning ways right up to the end of the season, which wraps up over the next two days with a trip to Brockway tonight and a home game Wednesday in Punxsy.