DOWNINGTOWN - Sitting in second place in the Ches-Mont League American Division, the Kennett High School softball team finds themselves in a position where every game is important.
Kennett (9-3 league) already finished the season series with the team they are chasing, Unionville, so all they can do is keep winning and hope for a little help from the rest of the Ches-Mont in knocking off the Indians.
Downingtown West (5-3), meanwhile, is keeping its own hopes alive in a volatile National division scrum with Avon Grove, Henderson and West Chester East. Parity is the rule in the Ches-Mont this season, with teams from both sides capable of winning at any moment, so a win over any team from either side of the league is going to be a big one.
Monday afternoon at Downingtown West saw two pitchers on their games in Emily Williams of the Whippets and Kennett's Brooke Harner. But the big difference was the bat of Callie Beeson of Kennett. The Blue Demons outfielder had three hits, knocked in a run, and scored the other as Kennett topped Downingtown West 2-0.
"It's really hard to say that with eight games still to be played that these are must-win games,' said Kennett coach Kevin Reigel. "But these are must-win games. We don't get another shot at Unionville, so all we can do is keep winning and keep the pressure on them to win themselves. We just have to keep taking care of our business.'
Kennett finally broke the scoreless tie in the fourth. Katie DeStefano led off the inning but was erased on a force when Chloe Chapman reached on a fielder's choice. Beeson brought Chapman home with her second hit of the game, ripping a shot to the gap in right center, and pulled into third with an RBI triple.
Beeson, who doubled her first time up, singled in her final at bat, leaving her just a home run shy of the cycle.
"She has really been hitting well the last four or five games,' said Reigel. "She's on a hot streak and showing power to the opposite field. Today she was just taking pitches where ever they were pitched and just drove them. And it didn't even look like big swings—she was just making perfect contact and driving it.'
The hot streak has brought a little reflief to Beeson after a sluggish start to the season.
"It seems like I always start off slowly,' said Beeson. "I think I'm finally starting to find a groove. I'm just glad we're getting runs on the board and winning games.'
Kennett added an insurance run in the seventh. Beeson led off with a single to right, and came in to score when catcher Camile Brown stroked a double to left, and took off to third on the throw home.
"I just wanted to get the hit,' said Brown. "I'd been struggling a little lately, and just wanted to get myself back on track. I just stayed back and didn't try to kill it, but just meet the ball and make good contact.'
But the West defense turned in a nice play, with catcher Haley Fagan throing a strike to third baseman Elle Johnson to get Brown.
"I was glad to get the run,' said Beeson. "It never hurts to score, but to be honest, I try not to pay attention to the score and just focus on playing.'
The two-run lead was more than enough for Harner. Harner threw a complete-game, two-hit shutout, striking out 12 while walking just one. Only Ashely Burgette, who beat out an infield single, and Alicia Wagner, with a single up the middle, had hits for West.
"Camile called a great game today,' said Reigel. "But you've also got to have a pitcher hitting her spots with the pitches being called, and Brooke sure did that.'
Harner left more than one hitter baffled with her change on the afternoon, but according to Brown, pretty much everything in Harner's repetoire was working.
"Her curve and rise were both working well,' said Brown. "Really everything worked, especially her change.'
Harner's counterpart, Williams, put forth a solid effort, too, scattering just four hits beyond Beeson's three.
"Emily pitched well,' said West coach Joey Germani. "She threw a good game, but we didn't give ther the hitting to support her. Harner kept us off balance, but we're a better hitting team than we showed today.'
The Whippets will have no time to wallow in defeat, though, as they finish out the week with two huge National division games, first against the crosstown rival Cougars of East, then against division-leading Avon Grove on Friday.
"It's already in the rearview mirror,' said Germani. "We'll be ready for East. Those are always fun games.'
Downingtown West 0
KENNETT ab r h bi D-WEST ab r h biHarvey CF 3 0 0 0 Hayes CF 3 0 0 0
Bonifacino 3B 2 0 1 0 Burgette 2B 2 0 1 0
DeStefano 1B 2 0 1 0 Fagan C 3 0 0 0
Chapman SS 3 1 0 0 Melillo 1B 3 0 0 0
Beeson LF 3 1 3 1 Williams P 3 0 0 0
Brown C 3 0 1 1 Steffen SS 2 0 0 0
Wessels RF 3 0 1 0 Wagner RF 2 0 1 0
Harner P 3 0 0 0 Andrus LF 2 0 0 0
Reigel 2B 2 0 0 0 Ryherd DP 2 0 0 0
Johnson 3B 0 0 0 0Totals 24 1 7 2 Totals 22 0 2 0
Kennett 000 100 1 -- 2
Downingtown West 000 000 0 -- 02B-- Beeson, Brown. 3B--Beeson.
IP H R BB SO
KennettHarner, W 7.0 2 0 1 12Downingtown WestWilliams, L 7.0 7 2 2 0