Connect with us


Coker, Downingtown West keep Daniel Boone guessing in non-league rout

Downingtown West's Cait Coker, facing, speaks with pitcher Natalie Beebe during Friday's win at Daniel Boone. (Austin Hertzog - MediaNews Group)

UNION TOWNSHIP >> Cait Coker didn’t pitch. She was rarely allowed to hit, either.

Yet the Downingtown West senior left her imprint all over Friday’s non-league meeting with Daniel Boone.

Despite being intentionally walked three times, she was a force when she was able to swing, going 2-for-2 with a double and three RBI. On the flip side, the Whippets catcher called a brilliant game behind the plate as pitcher Natalie Beebe kept the Blazers off balance all game, which added up to a surprisingly one-sided 11-0 Downingtown West victory.

A matchup of two teams ranked in the top 10 in their respective districts — Downingtown West (14-2) is No. 5 in the District 1 Class 6A rankings; Daniel Boone No. 7 in District 3 Class 5A — didn’t play out that way as the Whippets put up runs in five of their seven at-bats, including a death-by-singles five-run fifth inning, and Beebe allowed just two hits to a normally potent Blazers lineup.

“Natalie pitched amazing. She was hitting all of her spots,” Coker said. “And that’s fun for me as a catcher to call. Then we can call some other pitches and keep the other team off-balance. That’s the whole goal of the game, to see who can adjust quicker. It’s like a chess game, moves and countermoves.”

Beebe’s complete game was only 94 pitches, allowing just the two hits — singles by DB’s Dani Hayes and Hannah Johns — while striking out 10 and walking two. The junior’s riseball presented the Blazers problems and she expertly mixed speeds and spots throughout.

Downingtown West pitcher Natalie Beebe delivers to the plate against Daniel Boone Friday. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Asked how long she’s been calling games, Coker delivered a surprising reply: “Well, I don’t really catch.”

The Boston University commit plays third base for her club team, PA Strikers, catching exclusively during the high school season for Downingtown West.

“My dad (Chuck) has always been involved and my two older sisters played so I’ve always been around it, having the conversations while watching and playing games my whole life.

“You pick up on things. I think it helps on both sides of the ball — you’re thinking a couple steps ahead.”

Downingtown West’s Taylor Posner drives a single to left field Friday against Daniel Boone. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Coker was far from the only dangerous bat in the Whippets’ lineup Friday: Taylor Posner was 3-for-4 with two RBI, Meghan Sinkus was 2-for-4 with an RBI and No. 9 hitter Nina Gallagher was 4-for-4 as part of D-West’s 16-hit assault.

“We can hit 1 through 9 in the lineup. We do it different ways every game,” said D-West coach Joe Germani, who is a 2001 Daniel Boone graduate. “If we have to play small ball, we’ll go to it, but we can hit home runs too. We have 20 on the season as a team, which is the most we’ve had since I’ve been here (7 seasons).

“Our offense starts with Coker. She gets us going and she helps us read pitches and attack the pitcher the best way we can.”

Downingtown West’s Meghan Sinkus, left, steals second base as Daniel Boone shortstop Dani Hayes tries to corral the throw in the first inning Friday. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Daniel Boone is normally the one bombarding opponents. Friday was a blip on the radar for a team that was averaging 10.5 runs per game, and had only scored fewer than four runs one previous outing (2-1 loss to Fleetwood on April 8).

The Blazers (8-1 Berks II, 14-3 overall) are still in position to win Berks II – they play at Hamburg (7-1) in a virtual title game Monday – and defend their Berks County championship. The county playoffs begin Saturday, May 11.

Daniel Boone third baseman Liz Nitka makes a catch in foul territory against Downingtown West Friday. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

The top of the lineup featuring outfielder Kristen DiNolfi, junior third baseman Liz Nitka and sophomore shortstop Hayes has been devastating all season — all three had two hits in Wednesday’s 12-0 win over Berks Catholic — while there are very few holes lower in the order as well.

“Lately our team has been hitting so well as a team,” Hayes said. “It’s not just one player, but the whole team. That’s what’s been keeping us going. Even if our fielding is sometimes off, our hitting keeps us up.”

“We have a good team. I don’t think there’s a weak stick in our lineup,” DB coach Lee Trythall said. “We’ve been playing Tetris with the lineup, figuring out who goes where, and we have our lineup now. We know what our playoff/district lineup will be.”

There are no more freebies on the Blazers’ schedule with only Conestoga (13-2, ranked No. 6 in District 1-6A) and Hamburg remaining.

“Today was their day. But I still like our team and I like our chances going in (to the stretch run),” Trythall said. “Nobody went out here and tried to not hit. Sometimes that’s just what happens. I hope it springboards us and kicks us in the behind and says, ‘Let’s go! We’re better than this.’”

Trythall had no delusions about shutting down the Downingtown West bats.

“I thought Cait (McCrone) pitched well. I’m well aware that they put good wood — or aluminum — on the ball, I know they hit her pretty good, but they’re a good-hitting team. Their No. 9 hitter went 4-for-4 and she wasn’t dinking the ball. When you’re playing a team where the 9-hitter can hammer the ball, you’d better put some runs up.

“I didn’t think we were going to beat them 3-2; I never it as that kind of game. I saw it as an 8-8 game, but it didn’t turn out that way.”

Boone pitcher McCrone hadn’t allowed more than two runs in her previous four outings. On Friday, she was dinged for 11 runs (10 earned) on 16 hits with five strikeouts and six walks.

Daniel Boone’s Dani Hayes slides into second base on a steal just ahead of the tag of Downingtown West shortstop Brooke Dailey. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

It was a perfect way for Downingtown West to bounce back from Wednesday’s 6-2 defeat to Coatesville.

“I’m so proud of how we played today,” Coker said. “On Wednesday we didn’t hit the way we wanted to and know we can. Today I think we proved to ourselves that isn’t who we are. This is who we are.”

“We know that we have to play hard every game regardless of who we play. We are going to try to be the best version of ourselves.”

The Whippets are 11-1 atop the Ches-Mont National Division standings and look capable of a deeper postseason run after going out in the second round of last year’s District 1-6A playoffs as the No. 7 seed.

“We’ve had a couple rebuilding years in my time at West but we’ve had a strong group of seniors coming up and we’ve had some new freshmen performing well like they did in this game,” Coker said. “Nat’s been our pitcher for the last couple years so that combination of solid players who have played together with some new additions, we’ve really come together and learned to trust each other.”

The Whippets also have a backstop they can fully trust on both offense and defense. Even if she doesn’t really catch.


Downingtown West 11, Daniel Boone 0

DOWN. WEST                 DANIEL BOONE

                     ab   r  h bi                       ab   r  h bi

Sinkus           4  2   2  1    DiNolfi          3  0  0  0

Greider           1  0   0  0    Nitka            3  0  0  0

Coker             2  3   2  3    Hayes          2  0  1  0

Posner           4  0   3  2    McCrone      2  0  0  0

Eliason          1  0   1  1    Williams      3  0  0  0

DeFretas        3  0   1  0    Johns           3  0  1  0

Beebe            4  0   1  0    Kaba            2  0  0  0

Dailey            3  0   1  0    Kassekert    1  0  0  0

Martin            1  1   0  0    Weller          2  0  0 0

Grndizio         4  0   1  0    Miller            2  0  0  0

Lioumis         3  1   0  0    Player          0  0  0  0

Gallaghr         4  3   4  1    Player          0  0  0  0

Totals          34 11 16  9    Totals         23  0   2 0

Downingtown West          110 250 2 — 11
Daniel Boone                    000 000 0 — 0

2B-Coker. SB-Gallagher, Posner, Sinkus; Hayes.

                                   IP     H    R   ER   BB  SO

Downingtown West

Beebe (W)                 7.0     2     0      0      2   10

Daniel Boone

McCrone (L)              7.0   16   11    10      6     5



Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


More in Softball