WEST GOSHEN—Once the post season begins, the seeding doesn’t really matter. It matters even less when it’s two Ches-Mont National teams squaring off, and even still less when it is Henderson against West Chester East.
After splitting the regular season series, Henderson, the No 8 seed, took the quick trip down Paoli Pike to face the top seeded Vikings (17-5), with the winner guaranteed a slot in the state tournament. Not surprisingly, the team couldn’t finish in a mere seven innings, going nine before Cam Trotter worked an RBI walk to plate Kasey Collins with the winning run, as the Warriors (9-11) pulled out the 6-5 victory.
Up next for the Warriors is a semi-final tilt against No 4 Interboro, a winner over Upper Moreland Wendesday.
“We put the game plan in place and they executed as a team,” said Warriors coach Chris Hessler. “They pushed each other, believed in each other and wanted to see each other have some success, and they found success as a team”
The Vikings struck first, picking up runs in the second and third innings, keyed by a triple from Kayla MacLaughlin in the second, who came in when Jess Gomez executed a squeeze bunt, and an RBI double from Kelsey McLaughlin in the third.
Henderson came back and tied it in the fourth. Grace Abbonizio kicked things off with a lead-off triple, then came in to score when Brooke Espenshade beat out an infield single. Jordyn Melnick moved Espenshade over to third with a single to right, then Espenshade scored on a sacrifice fly from Nicole Capuzzi.
Abbonizio is having a monster post season, After going 4 for 4 with a double and a triple in the Warriors opening round win over Radnor, Abbonizio followed it up by going 4 for 4 with two doubles and a triple Wednesday.
“It was great seeing all my teammates get on in front of me,” said Abbonizio. “I’ve been seeing the ball well and hitting well, but the whole team has been hitting and keeping rallies going. East is a really good team, so it’s just great to get the win and keep moving on.”
Henderson tacked on another three in the fifth to go up 5-2. The Warriors got singles from Collins, Megan McAfee and Trotter, along with a 2RBI double from Abbonizio.
But the Vikings didn’t earn the one-seed without learning how to fight back into games, and answered back with a pair in the bottom of the fifth. Maddie Dudley (3 for 3, 2B) got things going with a double deep to the gap in right center, and moved up to third when Kinzie Thompson beat out an infield single. Dudley scored on an RBI groundout from Mclaughlin. Paige Olson followed, and brought Thompson home with a double.
Then in the sixth, Lexie Wilson got things going with a single to left, with following with a single up the middle. After both runners moved up a base on a ground out, Wilson scored on a sac fly from McLaughlin.
When neither team scored in the seventh the game went to extra innings, and throughout the last three innings of play, both teams were flashing the leather and making great defensive play after great defensive play, from diving catches to dead perfect throws.
“Kasey (Collins) with the diving catch going away from her, the relay from Grace (Abbonizio), the caight stealing in the eighth, they were all huge plays for us,” said Hessler. “And don’t sell East short, they had some big plays too, like the throw to get the out at home. This was just a great game played by both teams.”
Collins got things going for Henderson in the top of the ninth with a one-out single, then Abbonizio reached on a two-out walk to make it first and second. Espenshade came to the plate, and worked the count full before she was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Trotter then walked on four pitches to score Collins and give the Warriors a one-run lead.
“I just wanted to do what I could to help my team succeed,” said Espenshade. “That’s all I was thinking when I came to the plate, a walk, a hit, it didn’t matter as long as I helped the team. This win means the world to us. This was a dogfight. Our confidence level couldn’t be much higher than it is right now.”
For the Vikings, the season comes to a close, with a record of 17-5.
“Both teams played their hearts out,” said Vikings coach Bobby Swier. “There is no reason for these girls to hang their heads. You can go back and nitpick every play here, every call there, but they just came out on top. I hope (Henderson) does well going forward. I’m just disappointed for these girls. We all had really high expectations.”
Henderson 6 West Chester East 5
Henderson AB R H RBI WC East AB R H RBI
Collins—SS 5 2 3 0 Thompson—LF 5 1 1 0
McAfee—2B 5 1 1 0 McLaughlin—SS 4 0 1 3
Abbonizio—CF 4 2 4 2 Olson–CF 5 0 1 1
Espenshade—C 3 1 2 1 A Gomez—RF 5 0 3 0
Trotter—3B 4 0 2 2 MacLaughlin—3B 4 1 2 0
Melnick—1B 4 0 2 0 J Gomez—P 3 0 1 1
Capuzzi—LF 2 0 0 1 Lark—C 4 0 1 0
Burleson—DP 4 0 0 0 Wilson—2B 4 1 1 0
Matonti—RF 4 0 0 0 Dudley—1B 3 2 3 0
Skinner-FX/P 0 0 0 0 Totals 37 5 14 5
Totals 35 6 14 6
3B—Abbonizio, MacLaughlin 2B—Abbonizio (2), McLaughlin, Olson
Henderson 0 0 0 2 3 0 0 0 1—6
WC East 0 1 1 0 2 1 0 0 0—5
Henderson IP R H BB K
Skinner (W) 9 5 14 2 0
J Gomez (L) 9 6 14 2 5
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