Back-to-Back Titles for West Liberty Softball
Minch's Hilltoppers clinch second straight MEC North Division crown
SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio – The West Liberty University softball team clinched its second straight Mountain East Conference North Division championship here Saturday by splitting a doubleheader at Notre Dame (Ohio).
Coach Herb Minch's Hilltoppers (29-13, 23-9) locked up the division title in style with a 12-0 mercy rule win in the first game. The Falcons (15-25, 14-18) salvaged the split with a 3-2 nod in the finale.
In the opener, Kat Donzella homered, doubled and drove in three runs all in the first inning to fuel a 7-run explosion for the Black and Gold. The Hilltopper bats weren't finished as they racked up five more runs in the top of the fifth in rolling to the five-inning mercy rule win.
Makenzie Amend struck out nine batters over the first four frames to earn the division-clinching win with Taylor Bonnett coming on in the fifth to get the last three outs.
Annie Paterson and Riley Conkle backed Donzella in leading a 16-hit barrage. Paterson drove in three runs with a homer and two singles while Conkle finished with a double, two singles and two RBIs. Katelynn Blair chased home two runs with a double and a single, Katie Beeman had two singles and an RBI, Sidney Little singled twice and Conner Assif singled and drove in a run.
The second game was decided by the long ball. In the bottom of the second, McKenzie Zigmont and Emily Marsh followed a one-out single by pitcher Taylor Olson with back-to-back home runs for a quick 3-0 Notre Dame lead. The Falcons managed only one more hit the rest of the way but the damage had been done.
Olson surrendered back-to-back home runs of her own to West Liberty's Beeman and Paterson in the fourth inning but didn't allow another hit until a two-out double by Conkle in the top of the seventh. Olson struck out the next batter to end the game.
As the No. 1 seed from the North Division, West Liberty will open defense of its 2019 MEC Tournament championship Friday at 2:30 p.m. when it takes on the No. 4 seed from the South Division on opening day of the 2021 MEC Tournament in Salem, Va.
The Hilltoppers will close out their regular season slate at home on Sunday with a 1 p.m. non-conference doubleheader against Shepherd.
West Liberty 12, Notre Dame 0
West Liberty 700 05 – 12 16 0
Notre Dame 000 00 – 0 5 0
WLU: Amend wp (9SO, 0W), Bonnett (5) (0SO, 0W) and Donzella. Paterson HR, 2S, 3rbi; Conkle D, 2S, 2rbi; Donzella HR, D, 3rbi; K.Blair D, S, 2rbi; Beeman 2S, rbi; Little 2S; Assif S, rbi
NDC: Vance lp (0SO, 0W), Zigmont (1) (2SO, 2W), Grajczyk (5) (1SO, 1W) and Fording. Rivera 2S
Notre Dame 3, West Liberty 2
West Liberty 000 200 0 – 2 4 1
Notre Dame 030 000 x – 3 4 1
WLU: Bennington lp (5SO, 0W), Paterson (5) (4SO, 1W) and Donzella. Beeman HR, rbi; Paterson HR, rbi; Conkle D
NDC: Olson wp (5SO, 0W) and Fording. Zigmont HR, 2rbi; Marsh HR, rbi