Depp dazzles in shutout of Clearfield, 7-0

PUNXSUTAWNEY — For as well as junior Randa Depp pitched Friday against Clearfield, it doesn't appear as if the Punxsy softball team will be suffering through a losing streak anytime soon.

Depp pitched her second complete-game shutout against at District IX Class AAA opponent this week, and the Lady Chucks bounced back from their first defeat this season with a 7-0 victory over the Lady Bisons.

The junior followed up her last start — which was a three-hit shutout of St. Marys Monday — by recording a four-hitter Friday. She didn't walk a batter and struck out four.

"Pretty much everything — my drop-curve, my change-up and my fastball — was working today," Depp said.

Depp — who is surrounded by upperclassmen on the field in addition to her junior sister, Johnna — is more than midway through her first varsity season as a pitcher with the Lady Chucks. Even though she has started on the mound for a number of games this year, the nerves still kick in.

"Every game, I still get nervous," Depp said. "Once the game gets going into the first few innings, then I'm fine."

She appeared to be comfortable during the early innings Friday, setting down the first seven Lady Bisons. Back-to-back singles by Lacy Kovalick and Robin McBride followed, but two groundouts in a row ended Clearfield's best chance at scoring.

Never again would Clearfield put two runners on base at the same time after the third inning, and zero Lady Bisons runners reached third base.

Clearfield's best opportunity at getting a girl to third base came in the final inning, when Suzie Colesar tried to advance from second to third base on a wild pitch. Johnna Depp, Punxsy's catcher, pounced on the loose ball, fired to third base, and Ashley Barenchik applied the tag on Colesar to end the game.

Randa Depp's impressive performance came after she pitched 1 2/3-innings in relief Thursday, when Punxsy lost at State College, 6-2. During that game, she walked three batters (two intentionally) and gave up a three-run double in the sixth inning.

"She was on today, just like she was in St. Marys. Yesterday in State College, she struggled a little bit when she came on in relief, but when she's on, she's tough," Punxsy manager Alan Pifer said. "She shut down a good team. They have some great hitters and some good power hitters. It was a real nice job for her and good for her confidence to bounce back from yesterday."

By striking out just four batters, Depp also received a great deal of help from her defense. That included six put outs by third baseman Jenna Reitz.

"She played a great game down at third base. I really can't remember her getting a lot of action this year with the exception of today," Pifer said. "Randa needs a good defensive behind her, too, and she had that today."

While Depp was setting Clearfield down at will, Punxsy slowly built its lead. After a one-out walk by Kristen Fedder, she was sacrificed to second by Johnna Depp, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a two-out single by Barenchik during the second inning.

Punxsy scored twice in the third. Taylor Powell was on third base, and Shawnna Crago was on first when a double-steal led to Powell scoring and Crago successfully retreating to first base after she was nearly tagged out in a rundown.

Crago later scored on an RBI single by Tia Davis.

A solo home run by Barenchik extended Punxsy's lead to 4-0, and four Clearfield errors allowed Allie Shields, Hannah Giavedoni and Barenchik to score in the seventh inning.

Punxsy totaled seven hits, including two by Powell and Barenchik. It was an improvement after Punxsy's offense struggled Thursday in State College.

"We bounced back by hitting the ball well today," Pifer said. "Yesterday was probably about as low as we can go as far as hitting was. We talked about it, worked on it a little bit before the game, and the results showed."

Taking the loss was Rachel Hoffman. She allowed seven runs (four earned) on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts. BJ Bowman and McKenzie Moose each singled for Clearfield.

The Lady Chucks will now head to DuBois for a noon start today. A year after sweeping Punxsy last year, the Lady Beavers hope to avoid that fate today.

"They're going to be coming after us," Pifer said. "I know that they'll want us bad."