Centre County rivals Bald Eagle Area and Penns Valley entered Tuesday’s softball clash with the same problem — scoring runs.
The Lady Eagles had notched just five in their first three games and the Lady Rams had just one in two outings.
BEA’s Megan Dudish extended Penns Valley’s drought with a one-hitter and freshmen Logan Fischer and Mikayla Smith helped the Lady Eagles break loose for a 6-0 Mountain League triumph at Milesburg Little League Field.
Dudish (2-1) let it be known from the start that she would dominate this matchup. The senior right-hander struck out the side in the first, something she would do again in the second and fourth innings. She finished with 13 strikeouts and did not walk a batter.
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“She did an awesome job,” BEA coach Kayleen Sidisky said of Dudish. “She was in command of all of her pitches. She hit her spots. You can’t ask for anything more.”
The Lady Eagles got all of the runs they would need in the bottom of the second, thanks to three hits, a little sidespin and two Penns Valley errors.
Fischer led off the inning by roping a single to center field. Mallory Bennett then faked a bunt and grounded the ball to third, but Courtney Ironside threw just wide as second baseman Megan Houser and Fischer arrived almost simultaneously at the second base bag.
Makennah Dyke followed with a bunt that looked to be headed foul, but the ball spun back inside the first base line and she was safe to load the bases for Smith.
The freshman cracked a single to left that got through left fielder Morgan Royer and rolled all of the way to the fence. Smith’s hit cleared the bases to make the score 3-0. Megan Peters’ groundout then plated Smith to cap the four-run outburst.
“It was good to have the runs to boost me up so I don’t know I don’t have anything to worry about if they do score one,” Dudish said.
Dudish made sure the Lady Rams didn’t come close to scoring. A hit batsman and two errors provided the only Penns Valley baserunners until the seventh. After quickly getting two outs, Dudish gave up a clean single to left by Ironside that broke up the no-hitter. Dudish closed out the gem with a groundout.
““I hit my spots, but I knew I had the defense behind me if they did hit it,” said Dudish, who pitched ahead in the count most of the gorgeous sunny afternoon. “I had no clue it was a no-hitter... I’m doing better than I did last year, but I can still get better.”
Her coach did know that it was a no-hitter and was encouraging the BEA scorekeepers to follow the superstition of keeping it quiet.
“It was a bummer that she didn’t get it,” Sidisky said. “But, we’ll take the win.”
Penns Valley starter Maggie Lynch also pitched well, allowing six hits and striking out four. She was hurt by five errors, four more than the Lady Rams had committed in their first two games.
“I thought Lynch pitched a good game,” Penns Valley coach Don Lucas said. “She needs a little bit of offensive help and defensive help. We were uncharacteristically caught doing some things (defensively) we haven’t been doing all preseason and up to this point.”
Fischer also singled and scored on Bennett’s single in the third. Hitting in the No. 5 slot, Fischer was 2 for 3 in her second varsity start.
“We’ve been getting runners on and we’ve been striking out in the middle,” Sidisky said of her lineup. “That was big from a freshman to step up and get two hits.”
Allie Simpson also added an RBI grounder in the fourth, scoring Peters who had reached on an error.
While his club didn’t play stellar defense (aside from a great sliding catch by right fielder Tangie Lyons), Lucas said the Lady Rams’ problems are mostly offensive. They’ve faced three pitchers (Central’s Kylie Gunnett, Philipsburg-Osceola’s Kate Burge and Dudish) who had their teams among the top four in the District 6 Class AA playoffs last season.
“The big thing is we did not put the bat on the ball,” he said. “Kudos to (Dudish), she did what she needed to do.
“We’re going to be fine,” Lucas added. “I believe we have a good group of kids here. We just need to find the bats. If I had my druthers, I’d rather us be not hitting well now rather than the end of the year.”