Kennett remains in postseason race by beating Great Valley

EAST WHITELAND — Things are getting tight at the top of the Ches-Mont League American Division softball standings. A resurgent Great Valley squad had been right on the tail of Rustin, and thanks to West Chester East handing the Golden Knights a loss Thursday, things are tightening at the top of the standings.

But it’s not a two-team race — with third-place Kennett’s 5-3 victory over the Patriots on Thursday, the Blue Demons, last year’s division champs, improve to 6-5 and keep hopes alive for defending their title. They trail Great Valley (8-4) and West Chester Rustin (9-4) in the last three weeks of the season.

“There’s still quite a few games left to go,’ said Kennett pitcher Maddie Bowe. “Getting a win over a team like Great Valley, who has been having a great season, is great. We really needed this win; it’s going to bring us up a level knowing we can play with anyone.’

Kennett played well in all facets of the game. Bowe was solid in the circle, allowing eight hits, three runs with three strikeouts and no walks. Jamie Wessels provided power with a solo home run. They were aggressive on the base paths, using their speed for a couple of stolen bases and bunts for base hits. And they played great defense, with just one error in the game and some spectacular catches. Bailey Reigel made a pair of nice catches, ranging from her spot at second to dive for balls in foul territory.

“Knowing I have that kind of defense behind me is everything for a pitcher,’ said Bowe. “I don’t have to worry about striking everyone out. I know if I just hit my spots, my teammates will have my back.’

The Blue Demons scored a run in four of the first five innings, and got hits from the first seven slots in the order, led by Chloe Chapman, who finished 2 for 3 with a run scored. Kylie Harvery chipped in with an RBI double.

“You eliminate errors, you’re going to win up on the right side of the score more often than not,’ said Kennett coach Kevin Reigel. “And we just did the little things right. To score at least one run an inning for the first four, it was get them on, move them over, get them in. We got bunts down,and got a sacrifice fly from our eight-hitter.’

By contrast, the Patriots were not at their best and made some mental mistakes both offensively and defensively that took them out of innings, or gave up extra bases.

“Give Kennett credit, we made some mistakes, and they took advantage of every single one of them,’ said coach Jeff Celucci. “In this game, so often it’s the team that makes the fewest mistakes that wins, and today, we made too many mistakes.’

Despite the loss, the Patriots had a pair of excellent offensive performances at the top of the order. Leadoff hitter Marit Vike was 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored, while Emilee Kirk, hitting out of the three slot, knocked in all three runs with doubles in the first and fifth innings.

It’s been a long time since Great Valley has even had a winning record, let alone battled for a division title. But the next few weeks will find the Patriots playing meaningful games with thoughts of a postseason bid in sight.

“We didn’t have out focus today,’ said Celucci. “You’ve got to have your head in the game all the time, or any team in this league will beat you. But there’s a lot of time left, and we’re still in the hunt. We’ve just got to put this behind us, and do what we can to play well the rest of the year.’

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