Steinmetz double lifts Rustin to Ches-Mont American Division title

WESTTOWN — When Anna Steinmetz walked into the West Chester Rustin gym her freshman year, she noticed the softball team was the only one in the gym without a championship banner.

Naturally, she vowed to change that.

With two on and two outs in a scoreless ballgame in the bottom of the fifth, Steinmetz fulfilled her promise to herself from four years ago.

The senior swung on an off-speed first pitch down the third base line to score both runners and give the Golden Knights the lead for good. Steinmetz’s double ended up being the difference in Rustin’s 4-1 win over Sun Valley on a cloudy Tuesday afternoon.

The Golden Knights (13-5 league, 13-5 overall) clinched the Ches-Mont American Division title with the win, the first in school history.

“I’ve been trying to do this for the last four years,’ Steinmetz said. “It feels fantastic. For it to be my senior year to do it, I couldn’t ask for anything better to be honest.’

Steinmetz’s double started a Rustin rally that saw the Golden Knights send eight women to the plate in the bottom of the fifth. Charlotte Elrod singled to put runners on first and second with one out after Lexi Zavitsky advanced to first on a fielders choice.

Up came Steinmetz, who was 0-for-2 prior to her double, but had two hard-hit balls off Sun Valley starter Maddy Gutowiecz. Steinmetz’s approach to seeing the off-speed Gutowiecz for the third time was simple.

“She gave me a first-pitch strike every time prior to that at bat,’ Steinmetz said. “I was up there ready to swing away. I got a middle-outside pitch and was ready to drill in the runs. That’s what we needed to do.’

“When Anna came to the plate, she saw her (Gutowiecz) twice,’ Rustin head coach Bruce Dudley said. “She was ready and we saw the result. She blistered the ball.’

After Steinmetz cleared the bases to make it 2-0, Caela Abadie came up to the plate in hopes of extending the lead. Abadie drilled the second pitch of the at bat to left field which scored Steinmetz to put the Golden Knights up 3-0.

Like Steinmetz, Abadie had trouble adjusting to Gutowiecz’s off-speed pitches. In her first two at-bats, Abadie hit a fly ball to the wall in left field and a 250-foot foul ball to deep left.

The third time was a charm.

“I can wait on the ball, but slower pitching does affect my timing,’ Abadie said. “I’ll get early on the ball, but still see it well.’

Abadie was taken out for courtesy runner Amanda Fitcher after her double. Fitcher scored on a wild pitch later in the inning to make it 4-0.

The high-powered Rustin lineup scored four runs on five hits and left one stranded in the bottom of the fifth. A much different result than the first four innings, when it left three on base and didn’t record a hit until the third inning.

“We kept telling the girls to mentally adjust,’ Dudley said. “I mentioned to them to keep their hands back and wait for the pitch. Their stances were way off and they were lunging for the ball. They got to wait.’

As Rustin struggled to score runs early, Abadie kept the Golden Knights in the game with a strong performance in the circle. Abadie threw a complete game, allowed an earned run on five hits, struck out eight and walked two on 107 pitches. Despite the performance, Abadie struggled with her command early as she threw two innings prior to the start of the game (Rustin defeated Sun Valley 17-1 in a makeup of a suspended game).

Abadie threw 24 pitches in the first inning and had 51 through three.

Once Rustin got the lead, Abadie settled into her comfort zone in the circle despite allowing an earned run in the sixth. “Having those comfort runs is awesome,’ Abadie said. “It makes me not so stressed. I can pitch and go out there not worrying about giving up a run here or there. That helps me at the plate as well.’

Once Rustin clinched the American Division title, the Golden Knights breathed a sigh of relief as the journey finally ended.

Steinmetz finally will get to see a banner on the gymnasium wall when she returns to Rustin after her playing days with the Golden Knights.

“That was on my mind all day,’ Abadie said. “I wanted to get that banner up on the wall for our seniors because they worked so hard for this. It’s a good way to end their high school career.’

“It’s been a long time,’ Steinmetz said. “Now it’s about to see how far we can go. This program is still building. We’re starting to have players that know what they have to do and what needs to be done. We’re starting to get the concept of that, which will lead to making some noise in the playoffs.’

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