Clearfield's Picard twirls no-hitter over Punxsy

PUNXSUTAWNEY — In a tale of two days, the Punxsy bats produced enough hits on Tuesday for two days and that is exactly what happened.

The free-flowing 15-hit parade enjoyed in Bradford did not travel back home against Clearfield for the Punxsy softball squad.

The Lady Bison's Heather Picard gave up four walks but not a single hit to no-hit the Lady Chucks in a 2-0 victory in Punxsutawney.

In fact, after walking Punxsy's Ashley Bacha with one out in the home third, Ricard retired the next 14 home hitters to finish out the contest.

"Just to me, I don't know if we were looking ahead (to St. Marys today). We were away from something," noted Punxsy's coach Alan Pifer. "I didn't expect this, as two runs should not beat us."

The afternoon started with a moment of solace.

On Sunday, long-time area high school referee in wrestling, baseball and softball Jim McKee of DuBois passed away. McKee was originally scheduled to work home plate of the Wednesday varsity softball game.

The two varsity and junior varsity squads lined each of their respective sidelines, and a moment of silence was held. After the national anthem was played, Punxsy starting pitcher Monica Cameron threw a ceremonial first pitch to catcher Ashley Walls, while Clearfield leadoff hitter Megan Vanderburgh stood in the batter's box without an umpire to also honor McKee.

In the top of the first, the attending fans would see all the scoring there would be for the entire contest.

Clearfield's Vanderburgh lined a ball off pitcher Cameron's glove and up the middle for a single. Following a strikeout, Rachel Hoffman reached on an infield single to deep shortstop to put two runners on base.

The fourth visiting hitter, Devynn Ireland, laced the Cameron offering hard past Lady Chucks' shortstop Chelsea Engeholm to drive home the first tally. Lucy Kovalick drove the ball to Punxsy right fielder Emily Horner for a sac fly and a 2-0 score.

The two runs turned out to be all Picard would need for Clearfield.

Punxsy (8-3) was set down in order in the first before gaining the first base runner in the bottom of the second. With two outs, Savannah Hallman drew a long at bat walk. Horner duplicated the result with the second free pass in a row, but the Lady Chucks were retired on the next hitter.
After the top of the first, Cameron set down seven Clearfield hitters through the third frame.

In the home third, Mary Sloniger had maybe the best at bat of the game for the Lady Chucks. The senior second baseman fouled off at least five Picard pitches before outlasting the pitcher for a walk. Two batters later, Bacha drew her own walk, but the next two home hitters were retired.

Cameron and Bacha teamed up to hold the Lady Bison off the scoreboard in the final four innings by scattering four hits including a leadoff double in the fourth.

Cameron logged the first 4 1/3 innings in the circle, where she allowed the two runs, six hits, no walks and four strikeouts. Bacha came on in relief for the final 1 2/3 innings to give up only one hit and fan four.

"Pitching wise, Monica didn't do bad pitching. All the damage was done in the first inning. We just didn't get anything offensively for her," explained Pifer. "We need to pick ourselves off the deck. St. Marys beat us once, and they are a good team."

Round 2 of potentially three meetings will be today at St. Marys starting at 4:15 p.m.

In the junior varsity matchup, Punxsy continued its season of torrid hitting with 12 hits for 15 runs to throttle Clearfield, 15-0 in three innings.

Following a scoreless first inning, the JV Lady Chucks (11-1) had a fire lit under them with 12 runs in the home second. Punxsy completed the mercy run-rule shortened contest with three tallies in the third.
Shaina Painter, Shania DeFoor, Amber Ward and Bali Primm each produced two hits.

Ward laced a triple and DeFoor a double for Punxsy's extra-base hits.
Nicole DiPietro, Jensen Constantino, Taylor Medsger and Morgan McFarland rounded out the hits with singles.

DeFoor picked up the win in the circle, where she gave up two hits, walked one and struck out four.