West Goshen – Coming into the District 1 5A softball tournament as the 11th seed, Ches-Mont American Division co-champion Kennett got off to a fast start in its tourney opener Wednesday.
The Blue Demons scored eight runs in the first two innings en route to an 11-3 win against No. 6 seed West Chester East. Kennett (12-8) now travels to No. 3 seed West Chester Henderson to face the Warriors Friday in the district quarterfinals.
The third batter of the game, Kennett senior center fielder Kylee Harvey, pounded a 1-2 pitch over the left field wall for a three-run home run that gave the Blue Demons a lead they never lost.
“I felt that if we could build a lead early, we had the pitching and defense to protect it, as long as our bats got rolling,” said Kennett head coach Lauren Gottstein.
The Blue Demons got their bats rolling right away. Kennett shortstop Sam Weaver led off the top of the first inning with a single to center field on a 3-0 pitch. Kennett catcher Jamie Wessels followed with another single to center.
With runners on first and second and no one out, up stepped Harvey, who is headed to Sacred Heart (Conn.) University next fall, where she will major in English as preparation for law school. The Kennett senior smoked a 1-2 pitch over the left field wall at West Chester East to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.
“On the first few pitches, I was getting ahead of the ball,” said Harvey. “I adjusted my swing on the next pitch, and I could feel [a home run] right off the bat.”
West Chester East (11-10) battled back in the bottom of the first. Viking freshman center fielder Paige Olson lined a one-out single to left field, stole second, and scored on junior pitcher Amelia Lark’s single to left. East sophomore catcher Sam Gomez singled and Viking sophomore shortstop Amilia Andraos hit a sacrifice fly to right to make it 3-2.
In the top of the second inning, Kennett put together a five-run rally with five singles, a walk and two errors.
Kennett right fielder Jordan Barish led off the second with a walk on five pitches, then Blue Demon third baseman Carleigh Smith was safe at first on an infield error. Weaver singled past shortstop to load the bases with no outs.
Wessels was safe on the Vikings’ second infield error of the inning to make the score 4-2. With one out, Kennett pitcher Madison Bowe lined a single past shortstop to score Smith; then Blue Demon first baseman Sarah Oscar lined a single to left to score Weaver and give the visitors a 6-2 lead.
Kennett left fielder Maggie O’Sullivan lined a single to center to score Wessels; then Blue Demon second baseman Ainsley Albert poked a single through the left side of the field to score Bowe and make the score 8-2.
The Blue Demons had nine hits in the first two innings, and only one hit in the remaining five. Eight different Kennett players scored runs.
For the rest of the game, Kennett pretty much kept the hosts off the scoreboard, although West Chester East outhit the visitors 11-10 and had multiple baserunners in all but one inning.
“I thought our team defense was good today,” said Gottstein. “Kylee Harvey and Jordan Barish particularly did a nice job on some deep fly balls that East hit.”
East threatened in the bottom of the third when Lark reached first on an infield error to lead off the inning and Gomez ripped a hard line-drive single off Bowe’s shin, felling the Kennett pitcher.
A crowd of Blue Demon personnel gathered at the mound to make sure Bowe was all right, then the Kennett hurler returned to her mound chores. The next batter, Andraos, ripped a line drive, but right at Smith, who turned it into a double play.
In the top of the fourth, Bowe led off with a walk, O’Sullivan was hit by a pitch, and Albert doubled to right center, scoring Bowe. O’Sullivan and Albert scored on an East infield error to make it 11-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, Lark hit a one-out, bases-empty home run over the left field wall to make the score 11-3. Gomez (who went 4-for-4, three of the hits being infield singles) and East second baseman Kelsey McLaughlin lined one-base hits to put two runners on with two out, but a subsequent long fly out to Harvey ended the Viking threat.
East threatened again in the sixth inning, putting runners on second and third with two outs. Lark then hit a fly ball that was headed between shortstop and left field, and Weaver made a long run to catch the ball and end the inning.
The Vikings got their first two batters on in the seventh inning, but did not score. With one out, East senior first baseman Molly Ahearn ripped a long fly ball to deep right field, but Barish made a nice catch on it.
In an earlier matchup between these two teams May 8, West Chester East defeated Kennett, 13-2.
West Chester East head coach Bobby Swier said, “We have a young team, with only two seniors, and we started five sophomores and one freshman today. So I think we have a bright future [next year], but I feel bad for our two seniors [who won’t be playing for East anymore].
“Kennett hit the ball well, but we had a couple of errors and beat ourselves. We [also] hit the ball hard today, and I’m looking forward to next year. We used the players on our bench at a lot of different positions this year, so they’ll be versatile players for us next year.”
Kennett 11, West Chester East 3
Kennett 350 300 0 — 11
West Chester East 200 010 0 — 3
2B — Albert (KE), Thompson (WC).
HR — Harvey (KE), Lark (WC).
IP H R BB SO
Bowe, W 7 11 3 2 5
Lark, L 7 10 3 2 3