In 2005, the West Chester University softball team struggled to find a cure to revitalize their disastrous season. Maybe all they really needed was a heavy dose of laughter. Having a good old time at the ballpark has so far made the Golden Rams a successful team in 2006, which was evident last Friday afternoon as they split a doubleheader versus Millersville University on opening day of PSAC competition.
The Golden Rams have made a complete turn-around since last season’s dismal campaign that resulted in an 18-25 overall record.
“This is a team that really works hard, plays together and plays with a lot of heart,” said Golden Rams head coach Diane Lokey. “I think that gets us some wins.”
More than just some wins. The Golden Rams were coming off victories in back-to-back sweeps against Columbia Union and Goldey-Beacom prior to Friday’s two-game set.
“We’re just trying to go out there and have fun,” said Golden Rams shortstop Katey Kreider. “We’re playing hard and staying relaxed.”
In game one, the Golden Rams won in thrilling fashion, 3-2. Kreider went 3-for-4 at the plate and drove in all three runs for the Golden Rams, none bigger than the game-winning RBI single in the seventh inning.
“I was just really relaxed,” said Kreider of her offensive performance. “I was in the zone, having fun and just really comfortable [at the plate].”
WCU got off to a fast start, scoring runs in the first few innings to take a 2-0 lead. Golden Rams starting pitcher Adina DeHainaut was on a roll until she ran into trouble in the fifth and sixth innings when the Marauders tied the game. DeHainaut, who pitched a perfect game on March 12, bounced back in the seventh inning to record her 11th win of the season, albeit not at her physical best.
“I am very pleased with Adina’s performance,” said Lokey. “She’s been sick [most of the week]. She really hung in there today.”
Lokey was also impressed with Shannon Padula’s pitching performance in game two. The freshman allowed no earned runs over seven innings, but shoddy defense and porous situational hitting proved costly for the Golden Rams.
“We have to play better bunt defense. There were too many mistakes there,” said Lokey. “We’re still struggling with hitting and we need to fix that soon.”
Marauders’ starting pitcher Erica Slavinski was virtually unhittable the entire contest, allowing just three singles. Slavinski struck out four and the Golden Rams stranded six runners on base.
“We just didn’t get the bounce to go our way in the second game,” said Pokey.
Millersville scored early runs in the first and second innings. The Golden Rams had plenty of time for a comeback, but their only big chance came in the third inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Kreider had a chance for another crucial hit, but a line drive back to the shortstop ended the scoring threat.
“I think we were a little too anxious,” said Kreider. “We just have to stay positive, and most importantly, have fun.”
Krierder is now the team leader in batting average (.383), hits (23) and second in RBI (23) following Friday’s doubleheader.
As the Golden Rams embraces a tough road ahead, Lokey sees a team that is ready for all challenges.
“We just have to learn from our mistakes, and if we do that, we’ll be OK,” she said. “We’re very young and still learning.”
Last year’s Golden Rams team may have succumbed to the pressure of a PSAC schedule, but Krierder sees things differently this season.
“The key goal is having fun,” she said. “This is a good team. It’s like a new beginning.”
On Saturday, the Golden Rams traveled to East Stroudsburg for a doubleheader, but lost both contests, 9-0 and 2-1. WCU is now 15-9 on the season.