Coatesville jolts Rustin on Mendenhall’s triple

CALN — When the Coatesville softball team started preseason practices, Ashley Mendenhall wasn’t even on the varsity roster. She wasn’t called up until Coatesville’s first game of the season.

Maybe that early season uncertainty has left Mendenhall feeling she has something to prove. That fire burned up the field Wednesday after she capped a rally with a two-out, two-run triple in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Red Raiders a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over West Chester Rustin on Wednesday.

“I didn’t bring her up until our first game of the season,’ said Coatesville coach Christine Tobelmann. “But she’s been showing she deserves to be here ever since. Coming through in a pressure situation like that isn’t easy, but she really came through for us.’

Coatesville was held off the scoreboard by Rustin’s Caela Abadie until pecking away with single runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Abadie set down the first two batters, then induced a flay bat from Jackie Walsh.

Rustin center fielder Ali LaRosa covered the distance to short center, but couldn’t hang on to the ball, so Walsh was on and the Red Raiders still had life. Up came Alexis Lichtner, who had homered the previous inning to cut the lead to one, and she made it first and third, delivering a single to right.

The left-handed Mendenhall hit a sinking line drive to left that bounced over the glove of a diving Lindsey Mitchell and started rolling. Both runners scored, and Mendenhall slid into third with a triple to send her teammates into jubilant celebration.

“I knew we needed runs,’ said Mendenhall. “So I just took a deep breath and did what I needed to do. I took a swing and just did what I know how to do. It’s just great to get the win.’

Rustin drew first blood, plating the game’s first run in the top of the third. Charlotte Elrod (2 for 3 with 1 R, 1 RBI) beat out an infield single. Anna Steinmetz followed with one of her three walks on the day, and Rachel Frick brought Elrod home when she reached on a two-out error.

The Golden Knights added a pair of runs in the fourth on singles from Lindsey Mitchell, Brittany Fitcher (3 for 4, 1R), and Elrod, and an RBI walk to Abadie.

“We just have to play better defense,’ said Rustin coach Bruce Dudley. “There were a lot of balls we should have made easy plays on, and we made some mental mistakes, too. But now we’ve got to get ready, refocus and get ourselves back on track.’

Both pitchers were solid in the circle. Coatesville’s Laura Henry picked up her second win of the season going the distance for the win, allowing three runs on eight hits, while striking out five and walking five. Abadie took the hard-luck loss, allowing four runs on six hits, striking out six.

“Laura is just a warrior,’ said Tobelmann. “She will just hang in there and battle all day. You just have to give her some runs to work with. This was just a total team effort. I’d like to stand here and give you a few paragraphs on every girl on this team, They really banded together and fought for this win as a team.’

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