EAST PALESTINE-The East Palestine softball team entered the season with inexperience all over the diamond, but senior Karly Pence ensured the season got off to a flawless start on Thursday.
Pence hurled a five inning no-hitter and went 4 for 4 at the plate with a three-run homer as the Bulldogs defeated Youngstown Christian 15-0 at East Palestine City Park.
"Karly was in control out there today," East Palestine coach Dan McKinstry. "We were breaking in a new catcher tonight [Liz Shortt], which is never easy, but she handled that part of the game very well."
In addition to holding the Eagles without a hit, Pence struck out 15 of the 17 batters that she faced. Two base-runners came on passed balls after strikeouts while another came on a hit-by-pitch.
"We certainly had our hands full tonight," said Youngstown Christian coach John Gavin. "She [Pence] brought a lot of speed. It was very hard to time up our swings."
The Bulldogs scored five runs in the first inning on only two hits, taking advantage of four walks by Youngstown Christian starter Ashley Mounce and two costly throwing errors. The Bulldogs would steadily increase their lead the rest of the game, as Logan Gatchel went 3 for 4 with a home run, two triples and four RBIs while Sid Smith went 3 for 4 with an RBI to complement the effort of Pence.
"We did a nice job at being patient early, and then once we got some pitches to hit I thought our players put some nice swings on the ball," McKinstry said.
Youngstown Christian falls to 0-2 and will face Lowellville next Wednesday. The Eagles are playing their first season as a full-time varsity program.
"We are going to have some tough nights like this," Gavin said "But I'm proud of the way we played. We have some nice athletes to build this program around."
East Palestine (1-0) will play a doubleheader at West Branch on Saturday.
Y-Ashley Mounce, lp (2IP, 0K, 7BB, 4ER), Nadia Hasson (2IP, 0K, 1BB 7ER) and Julie Gavin.
E-Karly Pence, wp (5IP 15K, 0BB, 0ER) and Liz Shortt.