The Lady Rams swept both series the final week of the regular season, taking two from the University of Sciences (16-22) by a combined score of 15-3, and clinching a berth in the PSAC Tournament by sweeping ESU by scores of 19-4 in game one and 4-1 in game two.
In the opening game against the Devils, West Chester (28-23, 7-9) wasted no time in getting out in front as they scored four runs in the top of the first. They followed that with four more in the second, one in the third, and two in the fourth, as they cruised to an easy 11-1 victory.
Second basemen Kim Begley and designated hitter Kelly Anderson led the offense for the Rams. Begley had three hits in four at-bats, and Anderson went 2-for-3. The two combined to score four runs, steal three bases, and knock in six RBIs.
Shortstop Jessica Norris also went 2-for-2 with two runs scored. Devon Utterback (14-11) pitched a five inning complete game allowing just one run off four hits while striking out two and walking one.
The nightcap was much more competitive as the ladies fell behind in the first, but scored three in the second to take a commanding 3-1 lead.
The Devils crept to within one in the sixth, but West Chester added an insurance run in the top of the seventh to win 4-2. Leadoff hitter Charlotte Conaway led the way for the Golden Rams, going 1-for-2 with a triple and run scored to go along with two walks. Norris went 1-for-3 with a RBI and a stolen base. The Rams really took advantage of their base runners as they stole a total of five bases despite being caught stealing only twice.
Kim Murl (14-9) picked up the win, pitching 5.2 innings, allowing two runs off seven hits and striking out eight while walking one. Kate Skokowski relieved Murl in the fifth and shut down the Devils the rest of the way.
West Chester stayed hot as they visited the Warriors of East Stroudsburg (12-29, 5-11) for a doubleheader Friday afternoon. In the opener, it was all about the Rams offense. They scored two in the first, four in the third, five in the fourth, and eight in the sixth to finish off the Warriors, 19-4.
With both teams battling for a playoff spot, the Lady Rams were the ones who set the tone for day as three different Rams homered in the game. Catcher Nicole Cruts, first basemen Jillian Murray, and designated hitter Abby Block each had two-run dingers. Anderson and Cruts each went 3-for-5 with a double and three RBIs to complement the homers.
The offense was very efficient as they left only six runners on base off 18 hits. Utterback pitched another complete game going the full six innings, allowing four runs off four hits, and striking out three while walking another three.
The second and final game of the regular season for the Rams was very competitive and came down to the very end. West Chester pulled ahead with a run in the fourth, but ESU tied it up with one of their own in the sixth. In the top of the seventh, the ladies scored the three deciding runs off Conaway’s two-run triple and Norris’s squeeze play to go on to win 4-1 and clinch a playoff spot.
Norris was the only Golden Ram to record two hits, going 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Jessica Russ went 1-for-2 with a run scored and a walk. Utterback started her second straight game of the day but only pitched 2.1 innings before being relieved by Skokowski in the third.
Utterback gave up no runs off five hits and struck out one. Skokowski (7-7) came in and finished the final 4.2 innings allowing only the single run off two hits while striking out three.
Having secured a playoff spot in the upcoming PSAC Tournament, which begins Wednesday, the Rams will now sit and wait to see who they play. With Millersville and Shippensburg splitting the doubleheader this past weekend, it looks as though West Chester will finish tied for second in the PSAC East division with Shippensburg. Shippensburg, though, holds the tiebreaker over the Golden Rams so they will receive the third and final seed in the East division. This means that West Chester will have to face two teams from the Central and West divisions in a three team double elimination tournament.
The Golden Rams will be paired with either IUP or Bloomsburg from the Central division, and either California or Gannon out of the West division. All roads seem to be pointing towards number two ranked Kutztown who went 15-1 in the PSAC and 43-2 overall.
Riley Wallace is a third-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at RW718681@wcupa.edu.