KENNETT SQUARE - Just halfway through the season, it's tough to call any game a must-win. But with both the Kennett and West Chester East High School softball teams coming off losses to the squads chasing them in their respective divisions, Monday's game was certainly one that both wanted and badly needed.
With the help of a five-run fifth inning, Kennett walked off its home field with the all-important victory, edging the Vikings by a score of 5-4 in a hard-fought Ches-Mont League contest.
"We were all really upset about losing to Unionville like we did [last Friday],' said Kennett's Callie Beeson. "A win over anyone today would have felt good, but beating a team as good as West Chester East makes it feel even better.'
Beeson played a big role in the pivotal five-run inning. With two on and one out, Beeson ripped a shot to the top of the fence in the gap in right center, moving over to third on the throw home. The double knocked in Miya Bonifacino and Katie DeStefano to stake the Demons to a 2-0 lead.
"I was really nervous,' said Beeson. "The count was full, and I always get nervous when it goes to a full count. I was just really happy to get the hit.'
Kennett wasn't done, however. After Jamie Wessels walked to put runners on the corners, she advanced to second without a throw on the first pitch to Brooke Harner. Harner made sure to take advantage of runners in scoring position, with a double of her own that knocked in both runners and chased Vikings' starter Olivia Rogers.
Harner would score when Sara Oscar doubled off reliever Kristen Feurtes.
"It was great to get the big lead,' said Harner. "But I think we all relaxed a little too much. West Chester East is a really good team, and anyone in the line-up can beat you. The number seven hitter had two hits and a home run.'
Hitting in the seven slot for the Vikings is catcher Carolyn Degurski, who finished the day 2-for-3 with a home run and knocked in two of the Vikings four runs.
"Carolyn has a knack for hitting the inside pitch,' said Vikings coach Chuck Lindsay. "It was nice to see her take one out. But we're not a power team. We win when were doing the little things right -- getting bunts down and moving runners. And we didn't do that today.'
Degurski's dinger highlighted a four-run fifth inning for a Vikings team that hadn't gotten a single base hit to that point. The home run ended Harner's no-hit bid. Perhaps a little ratlled, Harner hit the next hitter, Chrissy Ludovico, and gave up a single to Olivia Francoromano. Both runners moved up 60-feet on a wild pitch, and scored when Amy Atwell reached on a bloop single to short left.
"I hit two batters today, and that's something I usually don't do,' said Harner. "I think for a little stretch there, I just wasn't throwing with the eye of the tiger.'
Harner settled down, though, and retired six of the seven hitters she faced, with Degurski singling and reaching third base before Harner retired the final two hitters on a strike-out and a line-drive to second.
"I so thought we might be down and mentally out of it today after losing to Unionville,' said Kennett coach Kevin Reigel. "So it's great to get the win, but one of these days I'd like to see us win by more than one run.'
Though the comeback bid by East put a scare into the Kennett side of the field, the Demons also showed the mental toughness you need to succeed.
"East's 1 and 2 hitters (Francoromano and Atwell) are really good,' said Reigel. "They turned the line-up over and those two put them right back in it. But Brooke and the girls just said that they had a one-run lead and six outs to go for the win and settled in a got it.'
The Vikings dropped to 5-2 in the Ches-Mont National, but there is plenty to softball yet to be played.
"We gave them five or six outs when they scored all those runs,' said Lindsay. "And a good team is going to make you pay if you give them extra outs. Every mistake you can make, we seemed to make it and we still only lost by one. We have to execute, and we have to prepare to play at the higest level every game. And we are capable of doing that.'