MEADVILLE —After a 7-0 defeat at the hands of Exton put Punxsy in the losers' bracket earlier this week, the Punxsy 10- and 11-year-old softball All-Stars knew they'd have their hands full in the championship game. Unfortunately for Punxsy, Exton's strong pitching held it to zero runs in a 5-0 shutout, ending Punxsy's run at a state title.
"This game was dominated by great pitching and strong defense by both teams," Punxsy head coach Steve White said after the game.
The pitching was so solid, in fact, that the game entered the sixth inning a one-run contest. A four-run sixth by Exton made things look worse than they were on the scoreboard, but Punxsy pitcher Grace Aikens had a strong outing, allowing just five hits over the course of the game and striking out five. Four of those hits came in the sixth inning.
Punxsy had a chance to get something started in the first when Jazzmine Hadden reached base on a bunt single and stole second, but she was thrown out trying to steal third, ending the threat.
In the second, Mia Lingenfelter tallied a two-out single, but she was also stranded.
Punxsy's greatest opportunity came in the fourth inning, when Lakyn Smith led off with a single and Cassidy Reed walked to put a pair on.
A wild pitch moved the pair into scoring position with nobody out, but Exton shut the door and prevented Punxsy from scoring to match its run in the top half of the inning.
"We missed a great opportunity to break it open in the third, and we just couldn't get it done," White said. "But I give the girls credit; they did not hang their heads after that, but instead, continued to play hard."
Punxsy's only other hit came in the sixth — a single by Chelsea Snyder.
Despite the loss, White said after the game he was very proud of the girls and their efforts, and he also took time to thank the team's many supporters.
"I want to take time to thank everyone who supported us through this wonderful ride," he said. "The fans; the parents; the radio and newspaper; all the folks associated with Punxsy Little League; my assistant coaches; and, of course, the players. I am so very proud of their effort and commitment this summer. It has been a pleasure coaching them."