Punxsy softball advances in bracket behind DiPietro's shutout

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Punxsy's Junior League softball All-Stars batted around in three of the four innings that it came to the plate en route to a 14-0 victory in five innings over Ridgway in Punxsutawney on Saturday.

Punxsy was the home team, so it did not have to bat in the fifth inning because of the ten-run rule.

With the win, Punxsy advances in the losers' bracket and will play St. Marys today at 6 p.m. Ridgway was eliminated from the tournament with the loss.

"Today was good for us, because I think it picks the confience up in the kids," coach Brad Constantino said. "We only scored one run on four hits in the DuBois game, and so we wanted to pick up our bats today. I thought the girls swung with confidence. Even on some of the outs that we made, the girls hit the ball hard."

After starting pitcher Nicole DiPietro held Ridgway scoreless in the top of the first inning, Punxsy jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in their half of the inning.

No. 2 hitter Shaina Painter singled to get things started for Punxsy and moved to second on a groundout by Alyssa Reitz.

Jensen Constantino followed with an RBI single, and DiPietro singled to move Constantino to third.

Taylor Newcome reached on an error, scoring Constantino, and Kara St. Clair had an RBI single to finish the scoring in the first for Punxsy.

Punxsy brought nine batters to the plate again in the bottom of the second. Leadoff hitter Ivy Phillips walked, stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. Phillips scored on a sacrifice fly to the second baseman in short right field by Painter.

Reitz singled and later scored on an RBI single by DiPietro. Newcome and St. Clair took advantage of some help from Ridgway when they both reached on errors.

DiPietro scored on St. Clair's grounder to first. Sierra Wasicki finished the scoring for Punxsy in the second with an RBI single.

Punxsy was held scoreless in the third, but batted around again in the fourth, bringing 11 hitters to the plate and scoring five more runs to make the score 14-0.

St. Clair got it started again with a single, and she stole second base.

Wasicki walked, and Anna Horner reached safely on a fielder's choice, where Newcome was forced out at the plate.

Punxsy's next four hitters, Phillips, Painter, Lexi Cielo and Constantino, each drove in one run with three singles and a fielder's choice to push the lead to 14.

Although Punxsy scored 14 runs, one would have been enough given the strong pitching performance they received from DiPietro.

"Nicole's a battler," Constantino said. "She throws strikes. We knew she was going to give us a great effort today, and she went out there and shut them down. She really didn't give them the chance to get anything going."

DiPietro threw a complete game shutout to earn the win for Punxsy, allowing only three hits.

Constantino credited Punxsy's relaxed style today to the fact that they jumped out to such an early lead.

"With kids this age, when you're able to play with the lead you can really play much more relaxed. That was obvious today," he said.

The entire team is looking forward to the chance to play another game with the possibility of advancing to the District 10 bracket final.

"It was a good team effort today," Constantino said. "We gave ourselves a chance to play another day. When you get to this stage, you just want to do whatever you can to play another day, and we gave ourselves that opportunity."