By BILL RUDICK
WEST GOSHEN — Softball is a game of adjustments. Little tweaks here and there could nudge you towards success. Adjustments to a new position on the field. Figuring out an umpire's strike zone and adjusting your pitches accordingly. And learning an opposing pitcher and adjusting at the plate. Sometimes those changes take a little longer than others.
It wasn't until the sixth inning of Thursday's Ches-Mont League National Division game against Bishop Shanahan that West Chester Henderson finally made those adjustments at the plate, but it proved quite beneficial as exploded for seven run in the sixth to break open a close game en route to a 10-2 victory."I think we all knew (the big inning) was going to happen eventually,' said the Warriors' Miranda Mikelson, who had a double and a triple and 2 RBIs on the day. "We just had to see the pitcher a couple times and get to know what she had and make our adjustments.'
On paper, Henderson (10-2) was a clear favorite, sitting on top of the Ches-Mont National Division standings, while the Eagles (3-8), though playing well of late, were sitting near the bottom of the pile. But no one still around from last year's Henderson squad forgets that the Eagles visited a day after the Warriors clinched the division title, and left with an upset victory.
"Every year they show up and play hard,' said Mikeslon. "They came in here today and really gave us a run for our money early on. You can't look past anyone.'
Henderson got on the board first, scoring in the third when Taylor Fouracre was hit by a pitch — one of three times on the day she took one for the team — and scored on Mikelson's triple to the gap in right center.
Shanahan answered right back in the fourth to tie the game when Bridget Magee fouhnd that same gap in right center, but drove it even deeper and circled the bases for a home run.In their half of the fourth, Henderson jumped back on top thanks to a couple of errors and a sacrifice fly from Lauren Butts.
"We have a bad tendency to beat ourselves,' said Shanahan coach Ron Savastio. "That was one of those innings.'
Shanahan, behind pitcher Nikki Keefe, hung in and forced Henderson's starter Megan Butts to work out of jams in the fifth and sixth innings. Henderson ended both rallies with inning-ending double plays.Henderson took advantage of the new life and put the game away in the sixth, scoring seven runs on singles from Heidi McCollester, Taylor Fouracre, Analise Fouracre, and Lauren Butts, along with walks to Allie Barnes and Megan Butts, a double from Mikeslon, and a sacrifice fly from McCollester.
"I breathed a sigh of relief when we got all those runs,' said Megan Butts. "They were pushing us, so getting a bit of a chshion to work with just added confidence. It was great to have those runs behind me.'
Butts collected the victory, allowing a pair of runs on seven hits, striking out eight and walking just one.
Shanahan didn't pack it in, however, and put one more run on the board in the seventh. Marissa Campbell led off with a double and came in to score on Claire Eggleton's two-out single.
"These girls will never quit,' said Savastio. "No matter what the score, they don't get down on themselves. But in my opinion, (Henderson) is the best team in the league. They've got everything over there.'
The Warriors solidify their hold on the top slot in the National, with a Monday showdown with second-place Avon Grove lurking just around the corner. After a shaky start, the Warriors seem to have found their groove, but won't take anything for granted in a season that has seen upset after upset in the league.
"It's the kind of league you want to have,' said Henderson coach Sarah Norris. "You want the close games and the tough teams all over. It makes us all better come the playoffs. But we've finally begun to trust one another — trust in the pitchers, trust in the defense to make the plays, trust in the hitters to hit. No one feels they have to carry the whole load. In my mind, I think (the division) is ours to lose.'
W.C. Henderson 10, Bishop Shanahan 2
SHAN ab r h bi HEND ab r h biBurkey cf 4 0 0 0 McCollester c 3 1 1 1
Keefe p 3 0 1 0 T. Fouracre 2b 2 2 1 0
Magee 3b 2 1 2 1 Mikelson ss 5 1 2 2
K. Campbell c 3 0 1 0 M. Butts p 2 1 0 0
Kempinski lf 3 0 0 0 Barnes lf 3 2 0 0
M. Campbell 1b 3 1 2 0 Cox 3b 3 1 0 0
Crocetti 2b 3 0 0 0 Maratea ph 1 0 0 1
Dearing ss 3 0 0 0 L. Butts 1b 2 1 2 2
Eggleton rf 3 0 1 1 Friedman cf 2 1 0 0
x 0 0 0 0 A. Fouracre rf 3 0 1 1Totals 27 2 7 2 Totals 26 10 8 7
Bishop Shanahan 000 100 1-- 2
W.C. Henderson 001 207 x-- 102B - Mikelson, M. Campbell 2. 3B -- Mikelson. HR -- Magee.
IP H R BB SO
Bishop ShanahanKeefe, L 6 8 10 5 3W.C. HendersonM. Butts, W 7 7 2 1 8