West Chester Hands WLU First NCAA Loss
KUTZTOWN, Pa. – The West Liberty University softball team dropped a 6-2 decision to West Chester here Friday morning in the winners' bracket final of the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Tournament hosted by Kutztown University.
The two-time defending regional champion Rams (33-14) advanced to Saturday's championship round as the tournament's lone remaining team without a loss. Coach Herb Minch's Hilltoppers (37-16) are set to return to the North Campus Field diamond today at 3 p.m. to take on the winner of the 12:30 p.m. elimination game between East Stroudsburg (27-15) and host Kutztown (33-14).
The WLU-West Chester game started out as a nail-biting pitcher's duel between the team's two senior aces, West Liberty's Makenzie Amend and WCU's Jen Hanshaw. The Rams got a two-out RBI double from Jaime Klemas in the top of the third to break up the string of zeroes but it was still a 1-0 game heading into the fifth.
That's when West Chester broke it open. The Rams plated three runs on four hits in the top of the fifth, the last two coming on back-to-back two-out RBI singles, to put the game out of reach.
Meanwhile, Hanshaw had settled into a groove. Moving the ball around in the strike zone to keep the Hilltopper hitters off balance and benefitting from several sparkling defensive plays, the senior right-hander carried a no-hitter into the bottom of the sixth.
Laral Saunders beat out a bunt to lead off the inning, ending the no-hit bid, and All-Region catcher Kat Donzella blew up the shutout with a two-out, two-run bomb over the centerfield wall but it was too little, too late for the Black and Gold.
Hanshaw threw just 82 pitches – 62 of them for strikes – in going the distance for the win, striking out four WLU hitters without issuing a walk. The Rams entered the game ranked among the top 10 offenses in NCAA Division II softball with a .363 team batting average and raked out 13 more hits, the most by a West Liberty opponent all season.
NCAA D2 Atlantic Region Tournament
(at Kutztown, Pa.)
West Chester 6, West Liberty 2
West Chester 001 031 1 – 6 13 0
West Liberty 000 002 0 – 2 3 0
WCU: Hanshaw wp (4SO, 0W) and Karcher. Stump HR, 2S, 2rbi; Klemas D, S, 2rbi; Melvin D, S, rbi; Kopinetz 2S, rbi;
WLU: Amend lp (7SO, 0W), Bennington (6) (1SO, 1W) and Donzella. Donzella HR, 2rbi