The West Chester softball team took care of business this week by going 3-0, taking one game from Philadelphia University and sweeping a doubleheader with Millersville. After six innings of play, the Golden Rams held on for a 4-3 win Wednesday against Phila.U, before the game was called because of rain. The second game of their doubleheader against Phila.U was cancelled. On Friday, the girls beat Millersville twice at home, clinching a playoff berth, and winning the first game 11-6 and 2-1 in the nightcap.
West Chester (27-16) started their first game at Philadelphia University (12-17) with a quick lead, scoring a run in each of its first two innings. In the first inning, shortstop Jessica Norris drove in a run with a RBI groundout, and leftfielder Erin MacNamee drove in a run with her first of two doubles in the second inning.
The Rams pushed their lead to 3-0 in the fourth when designated hitter Nicole Cruts hit a solo home run in the top half of the frame; her second of the year. In the bottom half of the frame, Phila.U responded with a run of their own to cut the lead to two, and then two more runs in the fifth to tie it up at 3-3. MacNamee sent one over the centerfielder’s head in the sixth inning for a RBI double that put the Rams up one.
The girls scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning, however those were nullified when the game was called with Phila.U at-bat in the bottom of the seventh. By rule, the score reverts back to the last fully completed inning.
The Rams were led on the mound by Devon Utterback (12-5), who went wire-to-wire for the win giving up five hits and three runs, only one of which was earned, and striking out five and walking three. The bats were led by MacNamee, who went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs, and Cruts, who went 2-for-3 with the home run.
On Friday the girls celebrated their senior day by clinching the final playoff spot in the Eastern Division with their win in the first of two games against Millersville (13-21). Catcher Kate Kmiecinski got West Chester off to a quick start with her grand slam in the first inning, which erased the Rams only deficit of the entire game.
Centerfielder Megan Kelly led the charge in the third inning with a two-run double, followed up by RBIs by MacNamee and Norris to push their lead to 8-2.
Millersville did their best to get back into the game by scoring four combined runs in the fourth and fifth innings. But the Golden Rams pushed the game out of reach with three runs in the sixth inning.
Cruts and rightfielder Kelly Anderson each singled with the bases loaded and a sacrifice fly from Kelly added the final run. Utterback (13-5) picked up yet another win, pitching four innings and allowing seven hits with four earned runs and striking out one and walking five. Kim Murl relieved Utterback and finished the game off by giving up no hits or runs, and striking out one to pick up her fourth save of the season. MacNamee, Kmiecinski and Anderson led the offense with three hits each. Third baseman Jessica Schuck and Kelly both recorded a double.
The second game of the doubleheader was a pitcher’s duel between Murl and Alicia Hughes (8-7) of Millersville. West Chester got on the board first, putting up two runs in the third inning with MacNamee driving in Anderson with a RBI single and Kelly, who scored when second baseman Abby Block grounded out to the shortstop.
The Marauders responded in the fourth inning with a bases loaded single that drove in a run to cut West Chester’s lead to one. From there, each team’s pitcher took over shutting down both team’s offense. Murl (12-8) picked up the win going the full seven innings, allowing four hits and one run while striking out two and walking none. Eight different batters reached base for the Rams with either a hit or a base-on-balls. Anderson recorded a double in the third inning for the only extra base hit for WCU. The win pushed West Chester’s PSAC East record to 8-6 with only two conference games at Kutztown remaining.
The girls finish up the regular season Monday at Takoma Park, MD where they will face nonconference foe Washington Adventist in a doubleheader at 4 and 6 p.m. Having clinched a postseason berth, the Golden Rams will begin their playoff run in the PSAC tournament on Thursday, April 21 with the championship being on April 30.
Riley Wallace is a second-year student at West Chester University. He can be reached at RW718681@wcupa.edu.