MUNCY - Already featuring a sleeveless look on a bitter cold day, Muncy pitcher Amanda Kustanbauter first absorbed an inadvertent bat to the arm in the third inning before taking a pitch in the back.
Kustanbauter shook off both blows like a bee sting, even smiling. The junior is one tough pitcher.
She also is developing into a fantastic one.
Muncy’s Lexie Temple is chased back to first base by St. John Neumann shortstop Megan Helminiak, right, as first baseman Chelsea Risley goes for the tag during the third inning of Wednesday’s game at Muncy. Muncy defeated the Knights, 10-0. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com
Kustanbauter threw a 1-hit shutout and struck out 12 Wednesday as Muncy blanked St. John Neumann, 10-0. The right-hander took a no-hitter into the fourth inning, struck out the side three times and has opened her season with consecutive shutouts.
"I feel like I got used to the cold and just started doing what I usually do," Kustanbauter said. "I feel good because I have my teammates backing me up and playing really well."
Kustanbauter has thrown three straight shutouts against Neumann (0-2). She came on strong last year, throwing a two-hit shutout against the Knights in districts and then coming within an out of beating eventual state finalist Southern Columbia in the semifinals, striking out 11 that day.
That Southern game and the Tigers' subsequent state final run motivated Kustanbauter and the junior responded by attacking the offseason the way she does opposing hitters. That is a big reason Kustanbauter has allowed no runs and just four hits in 12 innings this season.
"She had a tremendous offseason and has a tremendous work ethic," Muncy first-year coach Chris Ebner said. "She's getting to know situations and is getting ahead of batters and has really cut down the walks the first two games and that's key. She is a competitor and has that fire in the belly and that's what you need."
Maddie Dincher (1 for 1, walk) was the only Neumann hitter Kustanbauter did not strike out. She received a big assist from second baseman Rachel Gresh who made a nice play on a liner two pitches later and turned an inning-ending double play. The Indians received some timely hits, ran the bases aggressively and did all the little things right while complementing their dominant pitcher.
Caitlin Dauberman and Lexie Temple both went 1 for 1 and reached base all three times they batted while also combining for two RBIs and four runs. The Indians (2-0, 2-0 HAC-III) took a 6-0 lead after three innings and Crystal Good added a RBI double while Jordan Jones scored two runs. The bench delivered, too, as Nikki Scott and Nicole Harer both had pinch-hits, Harer's a two-run single that highlighted a four-run fifth inning.
It was a well-rounded performance by a young team that starts three freshmen and has a new outfield. The Indians have now outscored two opponents, 20-0.
"I think they're starting to jell," Kustanbauter said. "We made some errors on the bases but I think as we grow it's going to work out. Everyone is working hard."
"The work ethic has been phenomenal. We're transitioning well," Ebner said. "I have a great group of people and the coaches are excellent too. Everyone is working really hard."
Neumann is too. The Knights lost a lot of starters from last year and are starting four freshmen but have made a lot of progress from their first game through yesterday which actually was their third game since a tie with Millville was suspended last week. Neumann played its best defense yet and showed a lot of promise while Rachel Danneker was outstanding behind the plate, nearly throwing out three baserunners.
Dincher is only a freshman but hit well while freshman pitcher Marcie Fischetti showed why she could develop into a solid player as she gains more experience. The Knights are young, but they are developing and could emerge as a sleeper if they build on what they did right yesterday.
"They are showing good improvement. I was pleased with the pitching today. We'll be there," Neumann coach Ray Perchinski said. "They were down afterward but I told them you're seeing one of the best pitchers in the area and they held their own and played well."
Gresh dropped two perfect bunts and her third-inning bunt single was part of a four-run rally that made it 6-0. Good added a RBI double that inning.
Neumann000 00-0 1 2
Muncy114 04-10 7 0
Marcie Fischetti and Rachel Danneker. Amanda Kustanbauter and Crystal Good. W-Kustanbauter, (2-0). L-Fischetti, (0-2).
Top Neumann hitter: Maddie Dincher 1-1, BB. Top Muncy hitters: Crystal Good 1-2, 2B, RBI, R; Caitlin Dauberman 1-1, 2 BBs, 2 R, RBI; Kustanbauter 1-2; Rachel Gresh 1-2, R; Lexi Temple 1-1, 2BBs, 2 R, RBI; Nicole Harer 1-1, 2 RBI; Nikki Scott 1-1.
Records: Muncy 2-0, 2-0 HAC-III. Neumann 0-2, 0-2.