Lady Chucks — state finalists: How they got here

Staff Writer

By Zak Lantz, Of The Spirit

To succeed and excel — and ultimately to advance — in the PIAA state playoffs, a team must have a high level of talent, but it also must be playing at its best come the end of the season. The Lady Chucks softball team — fresh off a 3-1 win over Mt. Pleasant in the state semi-finals — has been doing just that, coming into form in time for the playoffs.

But in the four games since the postseason officially started — including the Lady Chucks’ District 9 championship victory over St. Marys and the three games in the PIAA playoffs — the statistics are downright impressive. So, ahead of Friday’s match-up, we figured we would take a look at the numbers that answer the question, “Just how did they get here?”

Let’s start smack dab in the middle of the infield — in the pitcher’s circle. Punxsy senior pitcher Kylee Lingenfelter has been darn-near unhittable, but when you spell out the numbers from the past four games — games, we must remember, that were played against playoff-worthy teams — things get even more impressive.

In 26 innings of work — three seven-inning games and a five-inning mercy-rule victory — Lingenfelter has allowed just one run, and that one wasn’t even an earned run. On top of that, she’s only allowed a total of eight hits (that’s an average of two per game) and five walks — just more than one per game! The number that may jump off the page even more, though, is the strikeout total, as over the course of the 26 innings, she’s struck out 59 opposing playoff-level hitters. In the 26 innings, she’s recorded 78 outs — that means that 75.6 percent of the outs recorded over the past four games have been strikeouts.

Offensively, the Lady Chucks have been no slouch either, as they put up run totals of 10, eight and eight in their first three postseason contests, then scored three in the state semis. There have been lots of impressive numbers — but one may be the way Punxsy’s poured on the extra-base hits lately. Leading that surge has been Kendal Johnston, who has stepped up to the plate — literally — and tallied a home run, three doubles and two singles while batting .667 and tallying seven RBIs.

Three other Lady Chucks — Lingenfelter, Sarah Weaver and Holly Hartman — have belted home runs, with Lingenfelter adding a double and three singles and four RBIs, while Hartman added a double and tallied a total of six RBIs, while Weaver has five hits and has driven in three runs. And joining them in the extra-hits parade has been Abby Gigliotti, who’s tallied three doubles and a single to go with three RBIs.

The highest average on the team since the postseason started, though — aside from pinch-hitter Elliott Ferrent who recorded a single in her only at-bat to keep a 1.000 average going — belongs to Grace Aikens, who’s gone 9-for-12 with nine singles, many of them the opposite way, for an impressive .750 average. Clean-up hitter Madison Stonbraker has also reached in nearly half of her official at-bats, going 6-for-13 and adding a pair of runs batted in. Toya Jones has also added a pair of hits and an RBI, with Riley Presloid adding two singles of her own.

The Lady Chucks have been seeing contributions in all aspects, including solid defensive play when the opponents have found a way to get a bat on the ball. The infield of Aikens, Mia Lingenfelter, Presloid and Hartman has been solid, and the outfield consisting of Weaver, Gigliotti and Jones has tracked down its fair share, as well, while Stonbraker has been a fort behind the dish.

Now, we come to the most impressive number of all: 2. There are only two teams remaining in the state at the AAAA level, and by Friday evening, the number will be one — the PIAA state champion. #goladychucksgo