July 26, 2014

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High school softball: Westlake’s power, pitching top Amherst

Westlake players congratulate Rachel May (30) as she crosses home plate after hitting a three-run home run in the third inning Friday against Amherst. The Demons won, 4-3. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Westlake players congratulate Rachel May (30) as she crosses home plate after hitting a three-run home run in the third inning Friday against Amherst. The Demons won, 4-3. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

AMHERST — The last time Amherst faced Westlake pitcher Katie Lew it failed to get a hit and struck out 12 times.

It took the Comets only one pitch to get a hit off Lew on Friday, but the result was the same.

Rachel May smoked a three-run home run to left-center and Lew did enough on the mound to lift the Demons to a 4-3 Southwestern Conference win.

Lauren Farley led off the bottom of the first with a bunt single down the third base line. After two outs, catcher Brooklynn Gonzalez reached on an error before Ashley Cogdell walked to load the bases, but the Comets (12-4, 5-3) couldn’t come up with a two-out hit and failed to score.

The game was scoreless until the top of the third when Westlake (12-3, 7-1) broke through for four. Alex Tinline stroked the first pitch she saw into left field for a single and Danielle Dill followed with a single to put Demons on first and second.

After Aaron Brown struck out, May picked out a 1-1 fastball and deposited it over the fence to give the Demons a 3-0 lead.

Katie Nagel and Caroline Hazapis doubled on successive pitches to increase the lead to 4-0 before Comets pitcher Zoe Beetler was able to get out of the inning.

“Westlake is a very good team and you can’t spot them four runs,” Amherst coach Lacey Reichert said. “But we battled back. You have to be happy with that. If there is one good thing to take from a loss it’s that we never quit.”

Cogdell led off the bottom of the fourth to cut the Westlake lead to 4-1. Amherst added a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI single from Cogdell and a sacrifice fly from Kelsea McGraw, but Lew shut them down the rest of the way.

As the game wore on it appeared as if Lew lost some of the zip on her fastball. However, in the seventh she blew through the Comets and struc\k out McGraw on a fastball to end the game.

“It was tough on her because we had a conference game yesterday, she pitched that game, then she came in today and pitched again,” Westlake coach Tom Shiban said of Lew. “Amherst had some really good at-bats and fouled off some tough pitches … They really worked the count. She wanted to finish. I asked her towards the end of the game how she felt and she told me she wanted to finish the game. She gutted it out.”

Lew was not going to come out of the game regardless of how tired she felt.

“I knew that it was the last inning and it was a really close game,” she said. “The outcome of the game would be determined in the last inning so I just threw my hardest. I’m kind of hurting now but I knew I had to finish the game.”

Shiban knows his team gave itself a good shot at being the top seed in the upcoming North Ridgeville district tournament when votes are cast Sunday.

“There are going to be a lot of good teams in North Ridgeville,” he said. “Elyria is a great team, Midview is solid, Avon is having a great year and Amherst is real good. Right now the district is there for the taking. We’ll see what happens Sunday with the voting. It’s going to be interesting but we put ourselves in a good position.”

Despite the loss, Reichert thinks her team proved something.

“When you compete like that against a team like Westlake you know you can compete against anyone in the district,” she said. “There are a lot of tough teams in the district and Westlake is definitely going to be at the top. It will be interesting to see what happens Sunday.”

Hazapas had three hits, including two doubles, and drove in a run for Westlake while Alex Tinline added a pair of hits. Cogdell was the only Comet with two hits.

Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or macsportstalk@gmail.com.

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