Junior MaKayla Drey put on a strikeout clinic as the Cougars defeated Neumann-Goretti 12-1 in five innings in the first round of the PIAA Class 3A softball tournament Monday at Lyons.
Drey struck out nine and allowed three hits over three innings as Kutztown began its journey for its first state title since 2002. The Cougars retired the Saints on strikeouts for 14 of their 15 outs while racking up 16 hits in the commanding victory.
“I feel really well after the victory,” Drey said. “I feel very confident going in with the team I have and I feel like we could go pretty far with this team. They did a phenomenal job today.”
The District 3 champion Cougars’ postseason will continue Thursday in the quarterfinals site, opponent and time to be announced.
“We’ve been working towards that,” Kutztown coach Kevin Conrad said. “So we’re playing some good ball right now. They’re not all going be that easy and we’re expecting a good battle the second time, but we’ll come up ready to play.
“It’s going to be a team effort from here going through. What makes this team so special is that we can win in different ways. We’re not really a one-dimensional team, which makes it a lot harder for the other teams to play us. This is our 11th year that we had the program here and, and this is probably our most well balanced team that we had. So I’m real confident.”
Kutztown opened an early lead after Sadie Berger scored off a bunt as a wild throw to first base allowed Berger to round the bases. Ashley Noecker hit a double and brought home two more for the Cougars (20-4) to give Kutztown a 3-0 lead after the first.
In the second, Samantha Furst hit a single that scored two for the Cougars, then Kourtney Dietrich knocked home two more on a drive to right field to give Kutztown a 7-0 lead after two innings.
The District 12 runner-up Saints (4-13) got one back in the top of the third but left runners on second and third as Drey recorded her ninth strikeout to retire the side.
“She’s (Drey) been throwing really well the last couple of games for us,” Conrad said. “I brought my freshman (Brianna Bauscher) in at the end there because I think down the road we’re gonna need to use her.”
The Cougars responded in the bottom of the third by scoring four runs to take a 11-1 lead into the fourth.
In the fourth, Bauscher came on to pitch for Drey and retired Neumann-Goretti 1-2-3 while also recording two strikeouts.
Madisyn Schmidt hit a triple and scored on Ryleigh Bohning’s single to round out the scoring for the Cougars in the fourth.
Bauscher retired the side on three strikeouts in the top of the fifth to end the game on a 10-run rule.
Conrad said he believes the team will be riding the confidence from this one for the remainder of the tournament as the Cougars have momentum.
“Once you get there, it’s only four games to win state,” Conrad said. “That’s been our goal from the very, very first week of practice. So we still got that goal intact.”
Source: Berkshire mont