By Bill Rudick
WEST GOSHEN—Coming to the plate in a tie game with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh would be nerve wracking for most. Not for West Chester East’s Amelia Lark. The amiable Vikings pitcher simply stepped in and calmly delivered a ground ball to the left side, and Kayla McLaughlin raced in with the winning run as the Vikings (9-5) topped visiting Downingtown East (6-8) by a score of 4-3.
“I wasn’t worried at all,” said Lark. “Everyone on this team can hit, and everyone on this team has come through when we needed it. So if I didn’t get it done, I knew that Nicole (Fredricks, who follows in the order) would, or that someone else would if we went extra innings.
The Vikings grabbed the early lead, with a little help from some Cougar miscues. MacKenzie Thompson got things going for the Vikings in the third, stroking a single up the middle, then swiping second. With one out, McLaughlin hit a sharp grounder to the right side of the infield, and the Cougars booted it to make it first and third.
Sam Gomez was next, and put on down the first baseline that scooted beneath the glove of first baseman Alex Meakim. Both runners scored on the error.
“Their first three runs were all unearned,” said Cougars coach Bill Williamson. “But I couldn’t be more proud of the way these girls battled back.”
Downingtown East grabbed a brief lead with three runs in the top half of the fifth. Meakim led off the inning, and ripped a ball deep into the gap in left center for a triple. Elaina Bono followed, and knocked Meakim in with a single. With two outs, Amelia Mazza and Steph Jacoby hit back-to-back doubles to make it a 3-2 Cougars lead.
The Vikings picked up another unearned run in the bottom half of the inning on a walk to Paige Olson and a pair of Cougar errors, Downingtown East threatened in the sixth, when Jacoby hit a one-out triple to put the go ahead run sixty feet away. But Lark left her stranded there.
“I’ve got to admit, I was a little nervous there,” said Lark. “I know they are a good team that can hit. But I also knew that if I made my pitches the team would make the plays behind me.”
With one out in the seventh, McLaughlin doubled up the middle, moving over to third on a single from Sam Gomez. Pinch-hitter Kelsey MacLaughlin worked a walk to make it bases loaded for Lark to work her magic.
“As we move on in the season, we really want to get our bats going,” said Vikings Coach Bobby Swier. “We did some good things early to capitalize on the opportunities we had, but we really started to hit the ball harder as the game went on.”
With the win, the Vikings improve to 9-5, and look to carry some momentum into the post season. After last season’s magical run deep into states, everyone knows that once you get there, anything can happen.
“We have six games left in the regular season,” said Swier. “That’s a team we didn’t beat at all last year, so it’s great to get a win like this. This late in the season, every win is important to set up the post season and to be ready when we get there.”
West Chester East 4 Downingtown East 3
D East ab r h bi WC East ab r h bi
Hammer—3B 4 0 2 0 Thompson—LF 4 1 1 0
Mazza—2B 4 1 1 1 Olson—CF 3 1 0 0
Jacoby—CF 4 0 2 1 McLaughlin—3B 4 2 2 0
Willenbock—SS 3 0 0 0 Gomez—C 4 0 2 0
Wilcox—C 4 0 0 0 Andraos–SS 3 0 0 0
Lehman—DP 4 0 1 0 MacLaughlin–PH 0 0 0 0
Meakim—1B 3 1 1 0 Lark—3 0 2 1
Bono—LF 3 1 1 1 Fredricks—2B 3 0 2 0
Dudkiewicz—RF 1 0 0 0 Ahearn—1B 3 0 0 0
Meluskey—FX/P 0 0 0 0 Francomano—RF 2 0 1 0
Totals 32 3 8 3 Totals 30 4 10 1
D East 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 –3
WC East 0 0 2 0 1 0 1–4
2B—Hammer, Mazza, Jacoby, McLaughlin 3B—Jacoby, Meakim,
IP H R BB SO
Meluskey (L) 7 10 4 2 1
Lark (W) 7 8 3 1 1