By BILL RUDICK
WEST CHESTER — Despite being stymied for most of the afternoon by West Chester Henderson pitcher Lauren Butts, West Chester Rustin had its best power hitters coming to the plate representing the tying run in the seventh inning. But Butts stranded the bases loaded to give the Warriors a 5-2 Ches-Mont League softball victory over their crosstown rival Tuesday.
"At this point in the season, every game we play is important,' said Henderson's Taylor Fouracre, who chipped in with a 2-for-3 day at the plate and scored three of the Warriors' five runs. "This one was a big win. So will the next one.'
Henderson improved to 14-3 in the Ches-Mont National, one game behind idle Avon Grove, which has three games in hand. The two will face off at Henderson on Monday.
Leading by three heading into the seventh, leadoff hitter Amanda Fichter reached after hitting a grounder when it was ruled that Henderson first baseman Megan Butts lifted her foot off the bag. Charlotte Elrod worked a one-out walk to put runners on first and second. Up next were two of the top sluggers in the region in Anna Steinmetz and Kaela Abadie, who lifted Rustin past Coatesville on Monday with a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh.
"All I could think about was that I just couldn't let them hit the ball,' said Butts, who finished with a complete-game three hitter, striking out nine while walking three. "I just tried to keep the ball low and trust that my fielders are going to make the defensive plays we needed.'
Butts took care of the second out by herself, fooling Steinmetz on a changeup for the strikeout. Abadie, who drove in both of Rustin's runs, worked out a walk to load the bases. But Butts made Henderson fans breathe again as induuced Elena DiPrimo to ground out to second to end the game.
"I trust Lauren implicitly,' said Henderson coach Sarah Norris. "So I was calm, cool and collected even in that situation. Her changeup was really on today and that's when she's at her best — when she's changing speeds and keeping hitters guessing.'
Abadie, who took the loss, pitched well also, allowing five runs — three earned — on nine hits. She struck out three and walked one.
"Kaela pitched well,' said Rustin coach Bruce Dudley. "We have to cut our mistakes. If it's 3-2 instead of 5-2 in the seventh, it's a whole different strategy.'
With a 10-7 record, the Golden Knights still have a chance for a playoff berth.
"I'm impressed with this team,' added Dudley. "Last year we got 10-runned pretty often and I don't think it's happened once this year. We're very competitive. We've got wins over Kennett and Avon Grove, two of the tops teams in the league. We're focused on making the playoffs and seeing what happens there.'
Henderson, meanwhile, still has its sights set on a second consecutive division crown, with a game against Unionville on Friday between its showdown against Avon Grove.
"We're on a pretty good streak right now,' said Butts. But we still have to very tough games left on our schedule. But the way we've been playing, I'm confident we can win them.'
And that attribute has been the key to success for Henderson.
"It's amazing how much comes down to simple confidence,' said Norris. But we have that right now. That confidence is a by-product of trust—trust in yourself, trust in your teammates. Knowing that we'll all work together to get it done.'
W.C. Henderson 5, W.C. Rustin 2WCR ab r h bi HEND ab r h biSteinmetz c 4 0 1 0 McCollester c 4 0 0 0
Abadie p 3 0 1 2 T. Fouracre 2b 3 3 2 1
Di Primo 1b 4 0 0 0 Mikelson ss 3 0 1 1
Fricker ss 3 0 0 0 Barnes lf 3 1 2 1
B. Fichter 2b 3 0 0 0 L. Butts p 4 0 1 1
LaRosa cf 3 0 1 0 M. Butts 1b 3 0 2 1
A. Fichter 3b 3 0 0 0 Maratea pr 0 0 0 0
Larson rf 2 0 0 0 Cox 3b 1 0 0 0
Placido rf 1 0 0 0 Golden rf 3 1 1 0
Elrod lf 2 2 0 0 A. Fouracre dp 2 0 0 0Totals 27 2 3 2 Totals 26 5 9 4
W.C. Rustin 001 010 0-- 2
W.C. Henderson 002 201 x-- 52B - Mikelson.
IP H R BB SO
RustinAbadie, L 6 9 5 1 3HendersonL. Butts, W 7 3 2 3 9