Lady Chucks rebound with a pair of fours

STATE COLLEGE — After falling to a polished Bald Eagle squad Thursday afternoon in Punxsutawney, the Punxsy softball team knew it had to put that game in its past with another tough foe ahead in State College Friday. And the Lady Chucks did just that, and behind two four-run innings and solid pitching from starter Randa Depp, Punxsy cruised to an 8-1 victory.

Despite the fact the Lady Chucks lost Thursday, Punxsy head coach Alan Pifer had said he'd seen a lot of things he liked out of his team — including hitting the ball hard and pitching well. And Friday, it paid off.

One of the things Pifer liked most about Friday's game was the continued hot streak by a freshman who just recently made her first varsity start in Ivy Phillips.

Phillips was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, and she scored two runs to lead the Lady Chucks in all three categories.

"Ivy continued her hot hitting," Pifer said. "There's no way you could take her out of the lineup hitting the way she has been. We just hope she keeps it up. We moved her up to No. 3 today, and she just keeps putting the bat on the ball. For a freshman, I'm very impressed. She doesn't seem to be intimidated at all by the varsity level of play."

Another player who has come on of late — Ashley Walls — was also a huge contributing factor with a triple, two RBIs and a run scored.

"Ashley has been putting the bat on the ball pretty well, and her triple with a couple girls on was nice," Pifer said. "We're starting to get some offense from some other sources."

Janie Depp-Hutchinson also had a successful day at the dish with a two-hit, two-run, one-RBI day, and Lauren Ball rounded out Punxsy's six-hit total with a single of her own.

In addition to a diverse offensive attack, Punxsy also saw another solid performance out of the circle from Depp, who allowed just one unearned run on six hits and struck out 10.

"She pitched really well for us," Pifer said. "She was really working the corners. If we wanted it inside, it was there. If we wanted it outside, it was there. And her drop curve was really working for her. She was in control. The only run the got, in the first, came after we made a few mistakes. But the defense did well after that, and those were our only two errors."

Punxsy's offense came in bunches, with two four-run innings telling the final story.

In the third, Ashley Bacha led things off with a walk, and while trying to sacrifice her to second, Tori Martin reached safely on an error.

With two outs in the inning, Depp-Hutchinson's single scored Bacha. Phillips followed suit with an RBI single to give Punxsy a lead it would keep throughout the remainder of the game.

Punxsy added two more runs with some help from a State College error when Sydney Phillips' fly ball was dropped, allowing Ivy Phillips and Depp-Hutchinson to score.

Leading 4-1, Punxsy put the game away in the fifth frame with four more runs.

Johnna Depp reached on an error with one out, and Depp-Hutchinson continued her clutch hitting with a single.

Phillips second run-scoring hit of the day came next with a single scoring Depp, and after the second out was recorded, Walls came through big to plate Phillips and Depp-Hutchinson on her triple.

Punxsy's final run came on an RBI bunt by Ball, scoring Walls.

With one of the team leaders — junior Chelsea Engeholm — out of the lineup for the afternoon, Pifer's squad had to turn to some of its senior leaders, and he said everyone delivered where they needed to.

"We missed having Chelsea out there today, but Alex Magill took over at shortstop, and Ivy filled in at second base," he said. "They were both solid. Tori Martin also continued to put the bat on the ball. She didn't have any hits today, but she's really making good solid contact."

One thing that pleased Pifer most was the fact that his squad improved since the last time it faced State College — a 4-3 loss April 20.

"We saw the same pitcher we did when we played them here," Pifer said. "She had 10 strikeouts then and only three today. So, we adjusted well. We just want to keep it going and, hopefully, end out a good week (today) against Smethport."

Punxsy's busy week does continue this afternoon with a noon contest against Smethport scheduled.

Fans are encouraged to arrive to the field a bit early, as the senior members of the softball team will be honored prior to the game.

In JV action, Punxsy also saw success against State College Friday.

Kara St. Clair hit a home run, Anna Horner notched a triple, and Nicole DiPietro had a pair of doubles to lead Punxsy to a 10-7 victory.

Shaina Painter and Emily Horner each doubled as well for the Lady Chucks.

DiPietro also pitched for the Lady Chucks to earn the win. She pitched seven full innings, allowing seven runs on 14 hits, walking one and striking out a pair.

After the game, manager Ken Covatch said he was pleased with all facets of his team's game.

"We hit the ball really well; we played well on defense; and Nicole pitched another strong game," he said.

DiPietro's three hits led the Lady Chucks, who also had four others — Madison Neal, Jensen Constantino, Painter and Emily Horner — with multi-hit games.