Punxsy's bats roll out of the gates to drop Lady Owls

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Punxsy starting pitcher Johnna Depp was sharp, striking out four in three innings work, and the Lady Chucks' offense was equally as sharp, putting up 18 runs to defeat Bradford 18-2 in three innings in the season opener Monday night in Punxsutawney.

Punxsy used three quick first-inning runs to jump out to a lead, but head coach Alan Pifer said it wasn't until the second inning, during which the Lady Chucks batted around and scored nine runs, that the offense started firing on all cylinders.

"It was nice to get a win today," he said. "We scored those three runs in the first, but we didn't really do it in the best way. Our timing was a bit off at the plate. But what I liked to see was that the girls made some nice adjustments to their pitcher. Almost everybody started hitting the ball really well then."

Depp started the game off on the right foot for the Lady Chucks by retiring the Lady Owls in order in the top of the first with a groundout to the second baseman and a pair of strikeouts.

Punxsy's Chelsea Engeholm got the ball rolling for the offense with a double in the bottom of the frame. Engeholm scored on a single by Depp, and after senior Tori Martin reached via an error by the catcher on a swinging third strike, the Lady Chucks plated two more before Bradford could sit them down.

Depp continued her dominance from the circle in the second inning, striking out the first two batters she faced and keeping Bradford hitless and scoreless through two.

Punxsy broke out the bats and brought 13 hitters to the plate in the second frame to bust the game open.

Randa Depp started things off with a single, and Engeholm and Ashley Bacha followed suit with singles of their own.

Sydney Phillips broke the single streak with a double, and Johnna Depp reached base on an error before Martin doubled, as well.

All six Lady Chucks who led off the inning by reaching base scored.

Ashley Walls walked to reach base, but was retired on a fielder's choice hit by Janie Depp-Hutchison. Martin scored on the fielder's choice.

Randa Depp singled, putting two on base when Engeholm came to the plate for her third at-bat of the afternoon.

Engeholm belted a line drive home run over the left-cen-terfield fence, driving in three and putting a cap on Punxsy's nine-run second inning.

"Chelsea hit one in the scrimmage we had against Indiana, too," Pifer said. "She's really got some good power for a smaller girl. She has some good pop in that bat."

Sarah London followed Engeholm's blast with a walk, but was forced out on a fielder's choice.

Bradford's Ashlyn Kelly reached base to lead off the third inning on an error and moved to second on a groundout to the second baseman.

Amber Abers singled for Bradford's first hit, and Marisa Cobb followed with a single of her own to drive in the Lady Owls' only two runs.

Punxsy went the whole way through the order again in the bottom half of the third, doing a majority of the damage with two outs.

Johnna Depp led off the inning with a triple, and after a Martin walk, Mary Sloniger cleared the bases with a triple of her own. Bradford pitcher Erika Bacha retired the next two Punxsy hitters, but those were the final outs she recorded, as the next five Punxsy hitters reached base, pushing the score to 18-2 and ending the game via the 15-run rule after three innings.

Depp's 3-for-4 outing, to pair with her sister's 3-for-3 performance, was capped off by a double to drive in the final two runs and end the game.

"Randa did a good job on the mound for us tonight, but also with the bat," Pifer said. "She didn't hit a lot for us last year, because we usually hit for her on the days she pitched. Her sister did a great job at the plate tonight, too. It's good to get a good start and gain some confidence. Hopefully, we'll take that into Saturday."

While Monday's opener against the Lady Owls pitted two youthful squads against each other, Pifer said he knows what they'll see Saturday when they travel to Williamsport to take on the Millionaires.

"We'll be running into a different team with a different kind of pitcher Saturday," Pifer said. "Bradford's young, just like we are, and sometimes it's tough to fill those voids. We're still not exactly sure where we are. We did some things well today, but we also made some mistakes in the field that we need to keep working on."

While Pifer's squad is off to a strong start, he knows the road ahead is tough, with a difficult schedule facing the Lady Chucks. But he said the one thing he wants to see over the course of the season is improvement.

"I'm always looking for improvement," he said. "I'm a firm believer in enjoying the win right now, but we have to get right back to work tomorrow.

"We're never satisfied. Once you're satisfied, the improvement has stopped. That's one thing I always try to drive home to the girls."

Punxsy looks to continue its winning ways — and its improvement — at Williamsport Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for noon.