West Central Area beat the Hillcrest Comets 13-0 in 5 innings on Thursday in the West Sub-Section 6A softball playoffs. That win put them up against top-seeded Brandon-Evansville with the Chargers pulling out a hard fought 4-3 victory.
“The girls played phenomenal ball against Hillcrest, hitting the ball incredibly well,” said Head Coach Vanessa McNamara of the lady Knights. “We had a conversation the night before about Nicole DeKok as a pitcher. She just broke a record for most strike outs in a season-124, and we talked about how we had to set realistic goals and switch up our swings a bit. It paid off. WCA racked up 15 hits, three of which were doubles, a triple and the rest being singles. We also had a lot of girls get hard hits against DeKok to cause Comet errors. All in all, DeKok only struck out four batters in the evening.”
Hannah Anderson and Brianna Kreft each won player of the game from various radio stations. Hannah went 3-4 with two singles and a double. Hailey Bennett had a great night in the box picking up a huge double and a single. Ellie Herman also had a great triple.
Brianna Kreft was the winning pitcher in the evening striking out five batters and allowing only 4 hits.
“All and all, this was a huge team win,” added McNamara. “It feels good to beat someone seated above us and not only that, know that all our hard work on batting has paid off. I couldn't be more proud of the girls and how they played in our first game. They have earned this win through and through and we look forward to moving on in playoffs.”
In their second game, the lady Knights fell to B-E in a 4-3 battle.
“We started the night out with three errors in the first inning giving up two runs,” reported Coach McNamara. “It was hard to allow a good team like Brandon Evansville two runs right away that were completely unearned. We knew we had to clean up our act and fight all 7 innings to have a chance. The Knights did exactly that. We got the ballgame back to a 4-3 game with runners on and Brianna Kreft at the plate. Unfortunately, a baserunning error ended the game early for us as one of the players was picked off at 2nd after getting too big of a lead. It was very hard to end a game in the middle of a rally. We had earned our way back, were fighting with all we had. We had our fastest runners on the bases and our biggest bat at the plate. Many things contributed to our loss, mainly errors, but the game came to an abrupt stop at that moment. I give credit to the B-E catcher for a great heads up play. She saw an opportunity to get her team out of the rut we had put them in, and she executed. That is something that cannot go unnoticed.”
McNamara continued, “Brianna Kreft threw an incredible game again. Many of the innings, she had all 3 outs through strikeouts. She had no earned runs scored against her and had multiple plays where balls were hit back in the circle at her and she had amazing catches.
Our hitting was fabulous in this game. We faced a team with seven seniors and our young group of girls fought until the end. We earned every one of our 3 runs, and unfortunately, through errors, we gave up four unearned runs. While there was a very disheartening end to the night, I am so incredibly proud of the girls for their ability to fight with the number one seed until the end of the game. They played with incredible heart, drive and talent. We are thankful for the opportunity to keep on playing in playoffs and plan to give Royalton a good run on Tuesday!”