WLU Overpowers East Stroudsburg in NCAA Opener
Combined no-hitter for Amend, Bennington; Cook, Beeman launch home runs
KUTZTOWN, Pa. – Makenzie Amend and Riley Bennington combined on a no-hitter and the West Liberty University softball team breezed to a 7-0 victory against East Stroudsburg here Wednesday in an NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional opener on Kutztown University's North Campus Field diamond.
Coach Herb Minch's two-time defending Mountain East Conference champion Hilltoppers (36-15) will take on top-seeded and No. 25-ranked Kutztown Thursday at 10 a.m. in a winner's bracket semifinal. The host Golden Bears (32-13) received a first-round bye.
Amend was virtually untouchable through the first six innings to earn the win with Bennington hurling the seventh to complete the no-hit gem. The Hilltopper right-handers combined for 11 strikeouts without a walk while facing the minimum 21 batters in a dominating performance.
East Stroudsburg's only runner came on an infield error with two out in the fourth but she was quickly cut down trying to steal by All-Region catcher Kat Donzella to end the inning.
Meanwhile, the West Liberty bats raked a pair of Warrior pitchers for 10 hits with half of them going for extra bases and two of them leaving the yard.
Annie Paterson got things started with a two-run double in the top of the first and the Black and Gold used the long ball to break things open in the fifth.
Allie Cook made it 4-0 in the fifth when she curled a two-run home run around the right field foul pole and Katie Beeman followed with a solo blast that cleared the fence with room to spare for a 5-0 West Liberty lead.
The Hilltoppers tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the top of the sixth. Back-to-back doubles by Sidney Little and Laral Saunders produced the first run. Saunders later crossed the plate on an infield grounder by Amend, who helped her own cause with a pair of singles on the day.
Amend, the MEC and Atlantic Region Pitcher of the Year, struck out 10 batters during her 6-inning stint to blow past the 500-strikeout career milestone with 504 "Ks." Bennington needed just seven pitches to close up shop in the seventh.
NCAA D2 Atlantic Region Tournament
(at Kutztown, Pa.)
West Liberty 7, East Stroudsburg 0
West Liberty 200 032 0 – 7 10 1
East Stroudsburg 000 000 0 – 0 0 1
WLU: Amend wp (10SO, 0W), Bennington (7) (1SO, 0W) and Donzella. Beeman HR, S, rbi; Amend 2S, rbi; Cook HR, 2rbi; Paterson D, 2rbi; Saunders D, rbi; Little D
ESU: Range lp (2SO, 0W), Grow (5) (0SO, 0W) and Houser.