WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. - Makenzie Amend recorded her Mountain East Conference record 600th career strikeout and the West Liberty University softball team celebrated Senior Day by sweeping an MEC doubleheader from Concord Sunday afternoon at the WLU Softball Complex.
Coach Herb Minch's Hilltoppers (21-12-1, 11-3) rode Amend's strong right arm to a 3-0 shutout win in the opener before holding off the upset-minded Mountain Lions (10-26, 3-13) by a 7-6 count in the second game.
The West Liberty coaching staff hosted a special pre-game ceremony to honor the winningest senior class in program history. The Hilltoppers' 10-woman senior class includes Amend, Katie Beeman, Riley Bennington, Katelynn Blair, Taylor Bonnett, Lauren Garcia, Julia Hahn, Annie Paterson, Lauryn Simmons and Kaitlyn Wheeler.
Amend was virtually untouchable in the first game on Sunday, blowing past the 600-strikeout milestone with 13 whiffs. The returning NCAA Division II All-American didn't walk a batter and surrendered only two hits through the first six innings to earn the win. Fellow senior Taylor Bonnett hurled a scoreless seventh inning for the save.
Grace Swigart broke up a scoreless tie with an RBI double in the bottom of the fourth and later scored on a two-run double by Beeman. Beeman had a single to go along with her double while Katelynn Blair also doubled for the Black and Gold.
West Liberty took a quick 4-0 lead in the nightcap, scoring twice in each of the first two innings, but the game quickly turned into a see-saw affair.
The Mountain Lions scored three runs in the fourth to pull within a run at 4-3 but the Hilltoppers responded with two more of their own to take a 6-3 lead into the fifth. The visitors added two more tallies in the fifth to once more make it a one-run game but an RBI triple by Kayla Mancuso in the bottom of the sixth added what proved to be a crucial insurance run for the hosts.
Concord still wasn’t finished, scratching out another run in the top of the seventh and getting the tying run to second base before reliever Riley Bennington nailed down the final out of a two-inning save to finish off the sweep.
Mancuso had a huge game at the plate for WLU, driving in four of the seven runs with a triple, double and single. Annie Paterson, who got the pitching win with 10 strikeouts over the first five innings, helped herself at the plate with a double, single and three RBIs. Bennington also contributed to the West Liberty attack, singling twice and scoring a pair of runs.
Still tied with Frostburg State for first place in the MEC North Division, the Hilltoppers return to the WLU Softball Complex on Monday for a 2 p.m. doubleheader against Glenville State.
West Liberty 3, Concord 0
Concord 000 000 0 - 0 3 0
West Liberty 000 300 0 - 3 6 1
Con: Bauer lp (5SO, 2W), L.Thompson (5) (2SO, 1W) and Privett.
WLU: Amend wp (13SO, 0W), Bonnett (7) (0SO, 0W) and M.Blair. Beeman D, S, 2rbi; Swigart D, rbi; K.Blair D
West Liberty 7, Concord 6
Concord 000 320 1 - 6 7 0
West Liberty 220 201 0 - 7 8 2
Con: Koller lp (4SO, 3W), L.Thompson (3) (4SO, 1W) and Privett. S.Thompson HR, D, 4rbi; Stacy 2S; L.Thompson S, rbi; Privett D
WLU: Paterson wp (10SO, 1W), Bennington (6) (1SO, 1W) and Holbrook, M.Blair (6). Mancuso T, D, S, 4rbi; Paterson D, S. 3rbi; Bennington 2S