DuBOIS — A fast start proved to be enough for the Punxsutawney Junior League softball All-Stars Sunday in a 4-2 win over DuBois in the opening game of the District 10 Tournament at City Park.
Punxsy scored three runs in the first and added another in the second, and those four runs were all starter Kendal Johnston needed on the day.
Johnston took a no-hitter into the top of the fifth before DuBois pinch-hitter Allie Snyder collected her team’s first hit with a one-out single to left.
Snyder’s hit started a late comeback bid by DuBois, which pounded out four hits between the fifth and sixth innings. However, DuBois managed to push just two runs across in that stretch before Johnston tossed a scoreless ninth to finish off the victory.
The win puts Punxsy in the winners’ bracket finals of the three-team tourney, where it hosts Kane/Ridgway on Tuesday. The loser of that game plays DuBois on Thursday for the right to battle for the district title.
Punxsy started its first inning rally off DuBois starter Aleigha Geer innocently enough. With one out, Sarah Weaver blooped a single behind the second base bag that fell in the middle of three DuBois defenders. Johnston then reached on an infield single that Cate Gregory made a diving stop on in the hole at shortstop.
Allie Meko followed with a single to right that scored Weaver, while another single to right by Hannah McCombs chased home both Johnston and Meko to put Punxsy up 3-0. Meko and McCombs each had two hits on the day.
DuBois stopped the damage there, as catcher Alex Volpe threw out McCombs trying to steal second before Geer struck out Madi Shiock to end the inning.
DuBois tried to get one of those runs back in the top of the second.
Saige Weible drew a leadoff walk and went to second on a wild pitch. She was bunted to second by Volpe and still found herself at third with two outs. Weible then tried to steal home on a throw back to pitcher but was caught in a rundown and eventually tagged out by Shiock to end the inning.
Punxsy carrie that momentum into the bottom of the second and added an insurance run to go up 4-0.
Jadym McMahan singled to right with one out, then promptly stole second. McMahan later swiped second with two out and scored when Riley Presloid reached safely after striking out on a pitch in the dirt that went to the backstop.
DuBois made a change in the circle in the bottom of the third, with Weible relieving Geer. Weible shut down the Punxsy offense the rest of the game, allowing just three hits and no runs over the final four innings.
Weible struck out six of the first seven batters she faced and finished with nine strikeouts and no walks. Her performance gave DuBois a chance to fight back into the game, although it found the going tough against Johnston.
DuBois got the first two runners on in the fourth as Cate Gregory walked and Lakin Smith reached on an error. However, Ho promptly lined into a double play, while Johnston struck out Weible to quickly halt a rally.
Snyder’s one-out single in the fifth seemed to breath some life back into DuBois. Rachel Radaker followed with a single of her own to center that put runners on the corners.
Radaker took second without a throw before Alana Burton scored Snyder with a sacrifice fly to center. That’s all DuBois mustered in the inning, though, as Johnston got Taylor Smith to fly out to right for the final out.
Gregory led off the top of the sixth with a single to right but was erased at second when Lakin Smith hit into a fielder’s choice. Smith was then forced at second on a fielder’s choice hit by Maddie Ho.
It looked like DuBois might come up empty in the inning, but Weible stepped in and belted a double that scored Ho from first to make it a 4-2 game.
That’s as close as Dubois got though. Johnston got pinch-hitter Morgan Tyler to pop up to short to end the sixth, then retired the side in order in the seventh.