DuBOIS — The Punxsutawney and DuBois Junior League All-Star softball teams met for the third time Monday in District 10 Tournament play, and it was Punxsy that came away with a 9-0 victory at City Park to capture the district crown.
Punxsy beat DuBois, 4-2, in DuBois on June 25 in the opening game of the tourney, while DuBois returned the favor with a 4-3 victory in Punxsy Saturday to force a “winner-take-all” championship game.
A third closely contested matchup never materialized between the rivals, as Punxsy’s Kendal Johnston proved too much for DuBois to handle — both in the circle and at the plate — in Monday’s finale.
Johnston tossed a complete-game shutout, as Johnston and her defense worked around seven DuBois hits. She struck out five and walked none. At the plate, Johnston went 2-for-3 with four RBIs and two runs scored.
Battery mate Hannah McCombs finished the day 2-for-4 with a double and four RBIs, as she and Johnston combined to drive in eight of Punxsy’s nine runs.
While Johnston was on target, the DuBois duo of starter Saige Welble and reliever Aleigha Geer struggled to find the strike zone. The pair combined to walk eight batters and hit another, with six of those nine free base runners eventually coming around to score.
With the victory, Punxsy advanced to the Section 1 Tournament, which begins Thursday at DuBois’ City park. Punxsy opens play Thursday at 7 p.m. against the winner of that day’s 4 p.m. that has the representatives from Districts 1 and 3 squaring off.
Punxsy wasted little time grabbing the lead Monday, scoring two runs off Weible in the top of the first.
After Weible fielded a comebacker off the bat of Allie Meko for the first out, Riley Presloid and Sarah Weaver drew back-to-back walks. Weible then field another comebacker off the bat of Johnston and threw out Presloid at third.
DuBois was on the verge of getting out of the inning unscathed, but McCombs drilled a double to deep right-center that DuBois’ Maddy Ho made a diving attemot on. Weaver and Johnston both scored on the double to give Punxsy the early 2-0 lead.
DuBois got a two-out single from Lakin Smith in the bottom of the first, but Johnston got a strikeout to end the inning. Smith was 3-for-3 on the day but DuBois could only advance her past first on one of those occasions.
Weible appeared to settle in in the top of the second, striking out the side in order. DuBois’ Rachel Radaker then ripped a one-out single to left in the bottom half of the inning. DuBois collected at least one hit in every inning but the third.
DuBois couldn’t get anything going in the inning as a pair of fielder’s choices ended the frame.
Punxsy’s offense went back to work in the third, with Presloid and Weaver drawing back-to-back walks to open the inning. That spelled the end for Weible, as DuBois brought in Geer.
Presloid and Weaver pulled off a double steal before Johnston greeted Geer rudely with a two-run single to left to push Punxsy’s lead to 4-0. That’s all Punxsy got in the inning though, as DuBois shortstop Cate Gregory eventually ended the third by turning a nice 6-3 double play.
Punxsy added to its lead with a run in the fourth, with a two-out walk by Meko starting the rally. Meko took second on a wild pitch before Presloid reached on a third strike in the dirt that DuBois catcher Ale Volpe thought she had fielded cleanly.
Weaver then drew a walk of her own to load the bases before an infield single by Johnston plated Meko.
DuBois looked to counter in the bottom of the fourth when Smith singled to right to open the inning. However, Johnston got three quick outs to thwart any thoughts of a DuBois rally.
Punxsy’s defense came up wioh a huge play in the fifth.
After DuBois’ Allie Snyder reached on a leadoff error, Volpe ripped a line drive that Punxsy first baseman Jadyn McMahan snagged. McMahan then doubled-off special pinch runner Maddy Ho, who had no opportunity to get back to first with McMahan catching the liner near the bag.
Alana Burton followed with a single to left, making McMahan’s play even more important. Burton, who was 2-for-3, never made it off first though, as Johnston got Taylor Smith to fly out to right to end the fifth.
Punxsy carried that momentum into the top of the sixth and all but put the game away with four more runs. After Punxsy loaded the bases with no outs, Johnston was hit by a Geer pitch, forcing home a run.
That ended’s Geer’s day, as Morgan Tyler came on to pitch. McCombs greeted her with a two-run single to center, while Madilyn Fye scored Punxsy’s final run two batters later with a single to center of her own.
DuBois didn’t go quietly over its final two at-bats though.
Lakin Smith smacked her third single of the game with one out in the sixth and took second on the play when the ball was misplayed in left field. She went to third when Weigle reached on a two-out error, but Johnston stopped that rally there by getting Tyler to ground out to second to end the inning.
In the bottom of seventh, DuBois’ Olivia Johnson hit a a leadoff single and had thoughts of stretching it into a double. However, she pulled up halfway to second and got caught in a rundown — eventually being tagged out for the first out.
After a groundout, Burton reached on a two-out infield single to extend the inning. But, Johnston got Taylor Smith to pop up to short to end the game.
DuBois finished All-Star play with a 2-2 record.