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DuBois Central Catholic’s Rylee Kulbatsky Dominant Again in Circle as Cardinals Blank Punxsutawney

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — With an eclectic array of pitches and a devastating rise ball as a deadly out-pitch, Rylee Kulbatsky has been virtually unhittable so far this season for the DuBois Central Catholic softball team.

She was at it again on Monday evening.

The sophomore struck out 15 in seven innings, walking two and giving up just two hits as the Cardinals blanked Punxsutawney, 6-0.

In two outings this season, Kulbatsky is 2-0 with 26 strikeouts, two walks and two hits allowed in 12 scoreless innings. Opponents are 2-for-40 against her so far. That’s a paltry .050 batting average.

She threw a five-inning no-hitter in a 13-0, season-opening victory against Brockway on March 27.

Nearly two weeks later, she showed no rust in another scintillating performance against the Chucks.

“Last year I didn’t know what to expect (coming in as a freshman). I’m a lot more confident this year,” Kulbatsky said. “I just expect more. I expect a lot out of myself.”

To meet those high expectations, Kulbatsky made sure to put in the work. She said she and her teammates toiled tirelessly in the offseason, trying to get the bitter taste of a 7-0 loss to Carmichaels in the first round of the PIAA Class A playoffs out of their mouths.

Two years ago, DCC went all the way to the state championship game, falling at Penn State. Last year, the goal was to return, especially after cruising to the D9 Class A crown, but the season ended abruptly.

“I feel like all the extra reps when no one else is watching is what really counts,” Kulbatsky said.

She has certainly put in those reps.

Kulbatsky, who throws a fastball, changeup, screwball and curveball to go with that effective rise ball, also plays for a travel team in New Castle, Pa.

Her work with the Ohio Outlaws has helped her hone her craft in the circle, both physically and mentally.

“My rise ball was my main pitch last year, but this year it is really working for me,” she said. “I’m throwing it a lot better. I’m getting a lot of spin on my pitches, and I worked on just being more confident in the circle.”

That mentality has aided her already in her sophomore year.

Last year, she became a force, going 7-2 with a 2.54 ERA. In 63⅓ innings, she struck out 85 and walked just 19.

So far in two starts she’s been dominant.

It helps that Kulbatsky has a talented team around her.

Melia Mitskavich homered, scored two runs and drove in two in the win at Punxsy. Kali Franklin also had a pair of hits and two RBIs and Kulbatsky helped her own cause with two hits, knocking in a pair.

Expectations are sky high again for the Cardinals.

“It’s fun,” Kulbatsky said. “We’re just executing everything as best as we possibly can. Obviously, reaching the state championship is our goal.”

Kulbatsky gets things done in the circle with location and movement. That’s not to say she doesn’t throw hard — she does — but she couples that with a fair share of finesse, too.

“I feel like in softball, everyone gets obsessed with how hard a pitcher can throw,” Kulbatsky said. “I think the spin on the ball is just as important. Don’t get me wrong, I try to throw hard. I try to be a pitcher, not a chucker.”

Kulbatsky began her pitching career when she was just nine.

“There was a practice and our team literally didn’t have any pitchers,” she said. “So my coach lined everyone up and one by one we went to the (circle). I guess I was the best.”

She’s been pitching — not chucking — ever since.

“I have a dream of playing Division I softball — really at any collegiate level,” Kulbatsky said. “That’s why I’m on the travel team that I am on, to really get me recognized by those coaches. My dad (Adam), he is huge for me. He just always keeps me going whenever I do struggle. And I do struggle sometimes. I have moments. Every athlete does. My dad’s always there for me to pick me up.”

So far, no struggling here.

It’s a long season, though, but Kulbatsky is certainly off to a torrid start.

“I mean, I wouldn’t say I’m surprised,” Kulbatsky said. “I’m happy I’m doing well, but I did the work that I needed to do, so I was expecting it. I just have to keep it going.”