DuBOIS — The new-look DuBois softball team, which was forced to replace six senior starters, has gotten off to a tough start in the 2019 season, but the Lady Beavers may have captured a signature victory Thursday with a 7-6 come-from-behind win against defending Class 4A state champ Punxsutawney.
The matchup was DuBois’ second straight against a team that won PIAA gold last year, with Philipsburg-Osceola beating the Lady Beavers, 5-2, on Monday.
Unlike P-O, which returned starting pitcher Kamryn Harris but lost its entire infield, Punxsy (3-3) welcomed back a veteran lineup but has been faced with the task of replacing standout pitcher Kylie Lingenfelter.
And, that veteran Lady Chuck lineup tagged DuBois starter Aleigha Geer for five runs on six hits in the second inning Thursday to jump out to a big early lead. Geer settled in after that big rally and limited Punxsy to just one more runs over the ensuing three innings.
That allowed DuBois (3-3) time to battle back into the game, which it did with two runs in the third and two more in the fourth against Punxsy starter Kendal Johnston. The game eventually went to the bottom of the sixth with the Lady Chucks holding a 6-4 advantage.
Reliever Elliott Ferrent couldn’t hold that lead though as the Lady Beavers stormed back with a three-run inning.
Lauren Walker and Maddy Ho jump-started that rally with back-to-back walks with one out. Kaylee Sadowski followed with a single to score Walker, while a single by Saige Weible chased home Ho to tie thing up at 6-6.
Taylor Smith promptly ripped DuBois’ third hit in a row, a single to left, that plated Sadowski with what proved to be the game winning run.
Ferrent drew a one-walk in the top of the seventh, but Weible closed the door n the Lady Chucks with back-to-back strikeouts of Riley Presloid and Abby Gigliotti to end the game.
Weible tossed two scoreless innings of relief to get the win. She also was one of five Lady Beavers to collect two hits as part of a 12-hit offensive attack. Walker, Smith, Sarah Henninger and Cate Gregory also had two hits in the win. All but Gregory had a RBI, while Henninger blasted two doubles. Maddy Ho added a two-run single to the cause.
“This was a total team effort,” said DuBois coach Denny Nosker. “Punxsy is a good team, and they are still the returning state champs. I got everybody in, and in certain situations we came through. We hit the ball well today, and Saige came in and threw strikes and shut them down once we got the lead.
“The big thing for us was getting those two runs and making it 5-2 (in 3rd). That kind of got them motivated in the game and then we got it to 5-4. We gave them a run back then, but they never quit. When they scored the five runs, we easily could have packed it up and said here is is Punxsy steamrolling us again.
“We played two returning state champs this week and went 1-1. You can’t ask for anything better than that.”
After Geer retired the side in order in the top of the first, DuBois had the first scoring threat in the bottom half of the inning.
Maddie Smith drew a leadoff walk before Henninger hammered a double to left field. Nosker thought about sending Smith but held her up at the last moment. Unfortunately, the throw in from the outfield went to third, and not the cutout person, and Smith was tagged out before she could get back to the bag.
Nosker said after the game the play was his fault, and likely cost DuBois a run when Sadowski flew out to deep left. Had Smith held at third, she most likely scores on Sadowski’s fly ball, which would have been the second out.
Instead, Punxsy hit the dugout with some momentum and turned it into a huge five-run top of the second. The big blows in the inning were a RBI triple by Gigliotti and a two-run triple from Sara Weaver with two outs. Mya Phillips also had a run-scoring single, while Presloid scored a run on a sac fly to left.
DuBois started to chip away at the 5-0 lead with a pair of runs in the third.
Henninger got things going when she was hit by a pitch. She went first-to-third on a single by Walker, who then stole second — just sliding in under the tag. That play proved key when Maddy Ho smacked a single to center to plate both runners to make it 5-2.
The Lady Beavers got within one with two more runs in the fourth.
This time it was Gregory who started things with a leadoff single. She found her way to second with two outs on a groundout before Henninger ripped her second double of the game to score Gregory. Walker followed with a single to center to plate Henninger and ended up at third when the ball got past the center fielder.
Johnston halted the rally there though, as she got Ho to fly out to right-center field to preserve a 5-4 lead.
Punxsy tacked on a run in the fifth on a two-out single RBI single to left by Presloid before Geer got Gigliotti to foul out to Taylor Smith at third to strand of a pair of runners.
DuBois loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the fifth, but Johnston struck out Lexi Smith and Maddie Smith to end the threat in her final inning of work.
After Weible tossed a scoreless top of the sixth, stranding two runners, DuBois gave Ferrent a rude welcoming in the bottom half — one that resulted in the Lady Beavers’ big three-run inning to gave them the win.
DuBois if off until Wednesday when it hosts Brookville.