Lady Chucks’ bats come alive to tame Lady Lions

PUNXSUTAWNEY — As a coaching staff, it is always rewarding to see your players take your instruction and produce results on the field with them.

On Thursday afternoon, the Punxsy softball team put the instructions into motion.

The Lady Chucks’ bats came alive in the third inning to power past and tame the Lady Lions of Altoona, 10-5, in Punxsutawney.

“After the last couple games, I was especially disappointed with only having two hits at Bald Eagle (on Monday). We called the girls out last night after our intersquad scrimmage and made some adjustments,” explained Punxsy head coach Alan Pifer. “In the third inning, they caught hold and took off.”

And take off they did.

Punxsy (3-1) pounded 13 hits in its final four turns at the plate, including a grand slam by Ashley Walls as the biggest blast of the game. Seven different Lady Chucks accounted for the hitting outburst to more than triple their runs from the last two contests, where they totaled one and three runs.

“We needed the boost of confidence, and they learned from what we talked about and responded,” added the winning coach. “The hitting was contagious tonight.”

The big stick came from Walls. The cleanup hitter went 3 for 3 with the grand slam home run, a double and a two-run single for a six-RBI day. She also walked and stole a base in her final at bat.

“Walls had a tremendous game today, like she did against Bradford where she hit all over ball field,” noted Pifer.

Sydney Phillips continued her hot hitting as well. The center fielder scored three times, singled twice and drove in a run.

Chelsea Engeholm and Ivy Phillips had good swings with a single apiece but multiple hard-hit balls.

“Engleholm had some hard line drives, while Sydney kept her hitting going, and Ivy started to coming out of a little slump. Mary Sloniger also had a very good day at the plate,” said the Lady Chucks coach.

Sloniger was the other three-time run scorer. The second baseman laced two singles and drew a fourth-inning leadoff free pass.

Savannah Hallman and Ashley Bacha rounded out the Punxsy hitters with a pair of singles apiece. Stephanie Smith had a sixth-inning sac fly in her lone at bat.

After a quiet first frame by both teams, Altoona put together a strong push in the top of the second inning.

Lady Chucks’ starting pitcher Sarah London gave up six hits in seven batters, as the Lady Lions jumped out to a 4-0 lead.

Bacha relieved her fellow senior in the third and would retire the first six batters she faced. She would allow just three hits and an unearned run in four innings of work, while striking out six without a walk.

“Ashley came in to shut the door,” pointed out Pifer. “Sarah struggled with her command and hitting her spots. Ashley picked her up and did a great job with the amount of time she had to warmup.”

Trailing 4-0 heading into the home third, Sloniger lined a one-out smash past the Altoona third baseman, and the hit ignited the Punxsy hitters.

Engeholm followed with a drive up the middle, before Bacha dropped the third straight single softly into left field to load the bases. Sydney Phillips continued with a single through the left side to score Sloniger and keep the bases loaded.

After doubling her first time in the box, Walls blasted a two-one offering off a car in right-center field for a grand slam homer. The round-tripper would give the Lady Chucks a lead they would not give up at 5-4.

Ivy Phillips and Hallman made for the sixth and seventh consecutive hits, but Punxsy could not add to its total.

Bacha set down the Lady Lions in order in the visiting fourth.

For the second time in as many innings, Sloniger started another run-scoring at bat. She drew a walk and moved to second on Engeholm’s sacrifice to the pitcher. Two batters later, Walls continued her torrid hitting with a sharp two-run single to center field for a 7-4 margin.

The Lady Lions added an unearned run in the top of the fifth to pull to within 7-5.

The Altoona gift run did not matter in the end.

Hallman singled to right but was forced out on Lauren Wolfe’s grounder. Slongier singled past the shortstop before Engeholm’s drive to center was dropped to plate both runners.

Punxsy added a final tally in the sixth off a Smith short sac fly to make it 10-5 before the Altoona side was retired in the seventh to end the contest.

The junior varsity Lady Chucks continued their complete early-season dominance.

Following a scoreless first inning, Punxsy exploded on Altoona for 10 runs in the bottom of the second. The Lady Chucks pushed across four more tallies in the third and a final single score in the fourth to complete the 15-0 pasting.

The JV Lady Chucks outscored their two foes this week so far 27-2 and improved to 4-0 on the year.

Nicole DiPietro again led Punxsy both at the plate and on the mound. DiPietro belted a home run and a doubled, while giving up just three hits with one strikeout in the circle over four innings.

“Nicole pitched another great game for us,” noted Punxsy JV head coach Ken Covatch. “Her home run was really hit well and cleared the fence by at least 10 feet.”

Kara St. Clair and Alyssa Reitz recorded the other extra base hits with a double apiece.

Jensen Constantino and Shaina Painter lined two singles each for their part of the 15-hit attack.

Anna Horner, Amber Ward and Beth Barnett completed the hit parade. Bali Primm and Shania DeFoor scored runs.

Punxsy will test their mettle against its strongest District IX opponent next. In a rescheduled affair, Punxsy will trek to St. Marys on Saturday for a noon first pitch against the Lady Dutch.