HYDE – Junior Angie Burke hurled a three-hitter and sophomores Angie Laska and Amber Lellock drove in two runs apiece as Punsutawney spoiled the Clearfield Area High School softball team\’s home opener 5-1 at the Bison Sports Complex Tuesday afternoon.
\”We didn\’t hit,\” coach Bob Dixon conceded after the Lady Bisons\’ bats were silenced for the second game in a row in the match-up of perennial District 9 Class AAA finalists. \”What did we have, 11 strikeouts against us?\”
Burke did reach that total by ringing up every Lady Bison except Alyssa Anderson at least once.
The right-hander kept the Lady Bisons off balance by effectively working in and out with her fastball. Her curveball off the outside edge of the plate gave the hosts fits.
\”She\’s a good little pitcher,\” Dixon said. \”I don\’t think she was overly powerful, but she located well, and she moved the ball around.
\”We just weren\’t aggressive at the plate. We stood there and took at least three third strikes. We watched a lot of strikes go by. And we worked last night on hitting.\”
Clearfield, down 5-0, cashed one of Burke\’s two walks into its first run of the season in the sixth inning, Ashley Lias sending Alanna Luzier home with a single into right center.
Luzier, only the third Lady Bison to get Burke to a full count, drew the free pass, and daringly dashed for third when on Megan Butler\’s groundout that glanced off the Punxsy pitcher\’s glove and was fielded by third baseman Kelsey McFarland.
Anderson and Kenzie McGovern had the only other hits for Clearfield, which never had more than one runner reach base in any inning.
The Lady Chucks (3-0) took advantage of Mandy Rowles\’ rocky start to give Burke an early 3-0 cushion.
After the Lady Bison junior hit Laska and Burke around a walk to Tina Elgin in the first inning, Megan McCully slashed a single through the right side for a big two-out RBI. McCully is another sophomore in a lineup that has only two seniors, McFarland and Elgin.
In the second, soph Megan Kauffman singled to right, stole second and advanced to third when Sara Depp\’s slow roller was misplayed. Depp stole second, and Laska chased both runners across the plate with a seeing-eye single down the first base line that was just out of Julie Colesar\’s reach.
Rowles proceeded to whiff the next three batters, running her pitch count to 65 for the first two frames. She allowed only one more walk and ended up 10 strikes and 138 pitches.
\”I thought she threw a decent game,\” Dixon said. \”You can\’t keep asking her to throw shutout, shutout, shutout, shutout. Sooner or later, we\’ve got to give her some support so she can relax a little bit out there. You\’re afraid to get one batter on, because then they get a run. That puts a lot of pressure on her.\”
Rowles kept her team in the game until the sixth, when Lellock whacked a double over left fielder Sarah Kovalick\’s head following a single by Sara Ruehle and an error on Kaufman\’s sacrifice bunt.
Lellock\’s hit was the one of the six against Rowles that didn\’t go to the opposite side of the diamond.
\”Defensively, we weren\’t real bad, but we had a couple key mistakes,\” Dixon said. \”Of course, when we make mistakes, they\’re costly when we don\’t score runs. Those are errors you can\’t afford to have.
\”Tonight wasn\’t our night. And, it\’s only the second game of the year. I\’d rather be 0-2 and be playing our best games at the end of the year than be 2-0 and looking great and then fall down flat at the end of the year.
\”We\’re gonna be fine. I think we\’ve got a lot of talent. They\’ll come around. As long as they work hard and we improve, I can live with it. But it\’s hard on my nerves.\”
In recent years, the Punxsy-Clearfield rivalry has turned into a three-game series, with the last game usually for the district title. Last year, the Lady Bisons prevailed 4-0 after losing 2-1 in 2006, so Dixon knew the Lady Chucks were pointing to the early-season showdown.
\”They wanted us bad, we knew that,\” he said. \”Alan (Pifer) always has a good team. I know they like to beat us, and we like to beat them. The girls look forward to playing them.\”
He\’s hoping for a different outcome when they meet again.
The Lady Bisons face another stiff test Wednesday against backyard rival and defending PIAA Class A champion Curwensville (1-0) and then take on St. Marys Friday. They will travel for both make-up games.
Punxsy clipped St. Marys 9-1 Monday as Elgin pitched a two-hitter and struck out 18, tying a school record set by Courtney Neal in 2004.
PUNXSUTAWNEY — 5
Angie Laska ss 2112, Kelsey McFarland 3b 4000, Tina Elgin 1b 3000, Allie Miller lf 4010, Angie Burke p 2000, Megan McCully dp 4011, Sara Ruehle c 3110, Megan Kauffman cf 2210, Sarah Depp rf 2100, Amber Lellock ph 1012, Allie Shields pr 0000, Ashley Spack (flex) 2b 0000. TOTALS: 27 5 6 5.
CLEARFIELD — 1
Alanna Luzier 2b 2100, Megan Butler 3b 3000, Ashley Lias ss 3011, Mandy Rowles p 3000, Julie Colesar 1b 3000, Alyssa Anderson cf 2010, Suzie Colesar dp 3000, Kenzie McGovern c 3010, Sarah Kovalick lf 2000, Amber Mahlon (flex) rf 0000. TOTALS: 24 1 3 1.
Score by Innings
Punxsutawney 120 002 0 – 5 6 0
Clearfield 000 001 0 – 1 3 3
Errors – Luzier 2, Mahlon. PB – McGovern. LOB – Punxsutawney 7; Clearfield 4. 2B – Lellock. Sac – Burke, Kauffman. SB – Laska, Kaufman, Depp.
Punxsutawney – Burke 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 K.
HB – Rowles 2 (Laska, Burke).
Clearfield – Rowles 7 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 10 K.
HB – Rowles 2 (Laska, Burke).
W – Burke (1-0). L – Rowles (0-2).