Punxsy downs Lady Dutch to earn fifth-straight D-IX crown

BROCKWAY — For the fifth year in a row, the Lady Chucks' softball team is the District IX Champion, having defeated the Lady Dutchmen 7-1 in Brockway Wednesday.

On winning the title, head coach Alan Pifer said, "It's fantastic. We beat a quality team there; they're a top notch program."

The Lady Chucks were firing on all cylinders with a combination of good pitching, fielding and hitting that showcased the talent the girls possess.

"We got a few breaks, we got a few hits when we needed them and got a nice pitching performance from Randa (Depp)," Pifer said. "She's thrown a lot of good quality games, and we played good defense behind her."

Depp pitched all seven innings and allowed only one run.

She struck out four, walked one and let only five runners reach base.

The Lady Chucks began their scoring in the fourth inning on a wild pitch by St. Marys' Rachel Ginther, which allowed Janie Depp-Hutchinson and Ivy Phillips to cross the plate.

Pifer has been impressed with Phillips' play over the season. She went 2-for-3, with two singles.

"She makes good contact, puts the bat on the ball, and the thing that impresses me the most is how composed she is for a freshman," he said. "Most kids, you bring them in there for the first varsity action, and they're intimidated. I noticed right off the get-go she wasn't. That impressed me a lot."

Despite the two runs scored in the first, Pifer knew there was much of the game to still be played.

"I know what that team's capable of, I know they've got some hitters in their line-up; they've got a pitcher (Ginther) that can keep them in games," he said.

Ginther, a junior, came out strong during the first three innings, with two strikeouts that helped complete two three-and-out situations, then a four-and-out situation in the third with help from the Dutch defense.

Once Depp-Hutchinson connected on a double in the fourth, the floodgates were open for the rest of the Lady Chucks to capitalize.

"She (Depp-Hutchinson) actually started things rolling," Pifer said. "She actually had the first hit for us in that double to right center. After that, the rest of the girls said, 'Yeah, we can hit her.'"

After that, the Punxsy bats got hot. In the fifth inning, the Lady Chucks tallied four runs.

Ashley Bacha opened the fifth inning with a single to right field, then Lauren Ball got to first on an error by first baseman Raelyn Cunningham, which allowed Bacha to reached third.

Ball stole second, then Alex Magill followed with a single. Bacha and Ball both scored on a wild pitch, giving the Lady Chucks a 4-0 lead.

Chelsea Engeholm then drilled a single of her own bringing in Magill. Depp-Hutchinson and Johnna Depp provided the first two outs of the inning with fly-outs to catcher Hayley Mcgowan and to right field, respectively.

Ivy Phillips then hit a single. After that, pinch hitter Ashley Walls brought Phillips in with a single to right field.

Tori Martin then flew out to second base to end the inning. The Chucks were up 6-0 after the fifth inning.

The Lady Dutch's only run came in the seventh inning, when Mia Keener blasted the ball to center field to score a triple. Raelyn Cunningham then brought her home with a single.

That was the last time a St. Marys player would make it on base.

The Lady Chucks fielded the ball well the rest of the inning, and the game ended when Depp threw the ball to Depp-Hutchinson at first base, beating Taylor Belina to the plate.

The Lady Chucks are preparing for their state playoff berth Monday.

"One saying that we always say is you can't be satisfied," Pifer said. "Once you're satisfied, improvement has stopped. You've got to work and keep working."