EP’s Pence strikes out 17 in 8-0 victory

EAST PALESTINE – When Karly Pence is on the mound for East Palestine, one can usually expect a stellar pitching performance.

But even Lisbon couldn’t have predicted this type of performance.

Pence struck out 17 Blue Devils in a complete game shutout as she led East Palestine (4-12) to a 8-0 victory at East Palestine City Park on Friday.

“She’s going to keep them in every game,” Lisbon coach Dave Crismon said. “We weren’t disciplined enough at the plate. You have to have a plan when you go up against someone like her.”

Pence muffled Lisbon’s bats for the entire contest, allowing just four hits. Those were the only baserunners of the day for the Blue Devils (4-14), as Pence didn’t walk a single batter.

“She was in total control tonight,” East Palestine coach Dan McKinstry said. “She’s one of the seniors on the team. This is her fourth year pitching, so she knows how to do it.”

The experience Pence has gained through her high school career is evident in her pitching style. She often uses a combination of speedy fastballs and dawdling changeups to throw off hitters’ timing.

“I go up in the zone with the risers,” Pence said. “I like to get ’em around eye-level, so they get a look at it and force them to swing. With the off-speed pitches, I go low and outside to force them to reach out for it.”

With either pitch, Pence was dominant.

“This was one of the better games I’ve had,” Pence said. “I was just trying to motivate the team. You always want to limit the amount of plays your defense has to make.”

“She’s a competitor,” McKinstry said. “She loves to compete. You can’t teach competitiveness.”

East Palestine had an impressive outing at the plate as well, scoring eight runs on ten runs. Logan Gatchel led the Bulldogs with four singles, producing four RBIs. Pence was also valuable swinging the bat, going 3-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs.

“We spent considerable time working in practice on bunting,” McKinstry said. “When we get runners on, we have to be able to get them into scoring position. We’re getting more comfortable at the plate.”

Bunting was one of the central elements of East Palestine’s attack. The Bulldogs had their leadoff hitter, Emily Duncan, lay down bunts for each of her at-bats in an attempt to use her speed to set up baserunners for the more powerful hitters further down the order.

“This is something we always do,” McKinstry explained. “But it’s something that we might have to do in the future. We aren’t going to produce a ton of power with the bats we have. We have to move baserunners in order to score runs, and bunting can be effective at that.”

Lisbon had one extra-base hit in the game – a first inning triple from Kenadee Pezzano. Katy Crismon, Calen Otto, and Kyrston Rose each scattered singles for the Blue Devils.

“We’re finding ways to lose games,” Crismon said. “We’ve been in a lot of close games this year. We just make these mental mistakes during important parts of the game that really cost us. Whether it be fielding errors, poor decisions, whatever, it always hurts.”

East Palestine only scored runs in the first, third and fourth innings – all innings in which Lisbon committed an error. Coach Crismon did not believe this was coincidental.

“We actually pitched pretty well tonight,” Crismon said. “We’re not a team that’s going to collect a lot of strikeouts. We try to pitch to our strengths, which is our infield defense. When we make the plays, we’re competitive. But when we make the mistakes we made tonight, it’s just opening the flood gates for disaster.”

East Palestine will visit United on Monday. Lisbon is at Mineral Ridge on Monday.