By BILL RUDICK
LIONVILLE — Coming off a tough, 11-inning loss to Avon Grove on Tuesday, the Kennett softball team had the unenviable task Wednesday of going on the road to face a tough Donwingtown East squad. For a while, it looked like the Blue Demons might have been heading to extra frames again, until they broke things open with a 3-run sixth inning, then held on for a 3-2 victory in the Ches-Mont League contest.
"We've already had our fair share of extra inning games this year,' said Kennett coach Kevin Reigel. "But this team has a knack for keeping their focus and just taking care of the task at hand. Downingtown East is always a good team, so to come off a tough loss like yesterday and get a win over a quality opponent is a great thing.'
Kennett starter Brooke Harner was dominant in the early going, striking out seven of the first 10 hitters she faced, allowing just an infield single over the same stretch. But the Cougars' Paige Warfel, while not racking up the strikeout totals like Harner, was equally efficient allowing just two hits over her first four innings.
"Warfel really had our girls off balance those first few innings,' said Reigel. "We were making contact, but it was weak contact, little rollers here and there. She has such a great change-up. It was a big adjustment from yesterday (Tuesday) where we saw pretty much nothing but straight gas from (Avon Grove pitcher Maggie) Balint.'
It was the Cougars who threatened first, loading the bases with none out in the fifth on back-to-back singles from Claire Riely and Kelly Freas, and a bunt base hit from Alicia Campbell. But Harner worked out of the jam, getting a strikeout, a flyout, and inducing an inning-ending groundout to second.
The Blue Demons then went to work in the top of the sixth. Mercedes Rios got things going, beating out an infield single to lead off the inning. Katie DeStefano followed with a single of her own, hitting a sharp ground ball down the third-base line that just stayed fair. Chloe Chapman finally broke the deadlock, ripping a ball to the gap for a triple, knocking in two.
"The pitch came in high,' said Chapman. "It might have been up at my eyes, but I didn't care. I just tried to drive the ball so we could get this win. Losing the way were did yesterday was tough, so we all wanted this one.'
Camile Brown followed with a double to knock Chapman in to make it a 3-0 game.
East wasn't ready to pack it in, though, and gave the Blue Demons a scare in the bottom half of the inning. After Warfel, who led the Cougars with three hits in three at-bats, got things going with a lead-off single, Bridget Nordberg ripped a ball to deep center, where it rolled far on the fenceless field. Warfel scored, easily, and Nordberg, too, circled all the bases for a two-run home run.
"After we scored those three runs, there was a definite sense of relief,' said Harner. "It was great to know everyone had my back. Once they got that home run, I knew it was my turn, and I had to get the next three outs and get us out of there.'
And she did, getting a weak pop-up to short, and a pair of strikeouts to avoid further damage. For the game, Harner went seven innings, scattering seven hits. She struck out 14 while walking just one."She reacted exactly the way a senior captain should have,' said Reigel of his pitcher following the home run. "That's the way a good leader handles adversity.'
The loss should do nothing to minimize the great effort from Warfel, though. In addition to her 3-for-3 day at the dish, Warfel actually gave up fewer hits on the day than did Harner, allowing just five base hits. She struck out three and walked one.
"I'm just really happy to get the win today,' said Harner. "We've never beaten Downingtown East before since I've been here, so this one feels great.'
The Blue Demons are off to a great start on the season, with a 3-1 record in Ches-Mont play.
"It's definitely great to follow a tough loss with a win,' said Reigel. "But honestly, any time we can get a win over the other division it's a great win.'
Kennett 3, Downingtown East 2KEN ab r h bi DEAST ab r h biHarvey cf 4 0 0 0 Ercolani cf 3 0 0 0
Rios rf 4 1 1 0 Aungst ss 3 0 0 0
DeStefano 1b 3 0 1 0 Warfel p 3 1 3 0
Haid pr 0 0 0 0 Nordberg c 3 1 1 2
Chapman ss 3 1 2 2 Flach rf 3 0 0 0
Brown c 3 0 1 1 Riley 1b 3 0 1 0
Wessells dp 3 0 0 0 Freas 2b 3 0 1 0
Harner p 3 0 0 0 Campbell dp 3 0 1 0
Bonafacino 3b 3 0 0 Guidone 1b 1 0 0 0
Beeson rf 3 0 2 0 Evans LF 2 0 0 0
Reigel 2b 0 0 0 0 Roth ph 1 0 0 0Totals 28 3 5 3 Totals 28 2 7 2
Kennett 000 003 0-- 3
Downingtown East 000 002 0-- 22B - Brown, Warfel. 3B -- Chapman. HR -- Nordberg.
IP H R BB SO
KennettHarner, W 7 7 2 1 14
Downingtown EastWarfel, L 7 5 3 3 1