With their postseason dreams on the line, the KU softball team swept East Stroudsburg University in a doubleheader on Friday, April 26 to clinch a berth in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Tournament.
The Lady Golden Bears (25-21, 9-7) rallied to continue their sporadic season, beating East Stroudsburg’s Warriors (18-20, 4-12) 13-10 and 8-0 in their season finale.
In game one of the twinbill, the starting pitchers for both teams appeared shaky, as neither hurler made it out of the third inning. The game was offensive-minded from the start with 15 total runs scored throughout three.
KU’s bats came out on fire, scoring eight runs in the first three innings behind Katie Lynch’s two-run double in the first. ESU’s starting pitcher, Laura Suits (7-8), suffered the loss after being yanked in the second inning. The Golden Bears tallied seven hits in the initial three, including a solo home-run from Danielle Sienko, her first of the season.
After allowing a double and an RBI-single in the third, KU’s starting pitcher Dominique Ficara was relieved by fellow sophomore Mary Kociencki. Kociencki finished the third, but not before allowing a bases-loaded double by Haley Thomas that plated three runs. Thomas had a stellar game, going a perfect 4-4 with five RBI’s and two runs scored.
With KU up by one going into the fourth, both relievers settled in, putting up zeros in the next two innings.
The 8-7 stalemate ended in the sixth when the Golden Bears scored five runs on three hits and one error. ESU did manage to score two more runs in the final two innings, but KU held the lead in their first victory of the day.
Kociencki (11-9) got the job done out of the bullpen in an extended relief outing, throwing 4.2 innings, to earn the win. She is second on the team in wins behind Ficara (13).
KU totaled 14 hits in the contest with multi-hit games from Jackie Hetzler, Morgan Booth, Nicole Henninger and Sienko.
In game two of the doubleheader, head coach Judy Lawes used Kociencki’s momentum from game one and started the right-hander on the mound. Kociencki provided a dazzling performance, throwing a complete game, four-hit shutout for her second victory of the day and her fourth shutout of the season.
The Golden Bears again recorded double-digit hits with 10 in the game. Left-fielder Maria Isgro shined at the plate going 2-3 with two doubles and three RBI’s. Booth and Henninger kept up their hitting torrent with consecutive multi-hit games.
Other than putting the Golden Bears in the playoffs, KU’s 8-0 victory was extra special, as it was Coach Lawes’ 799th win of her career.
The KU women have a chance to help Lawes reach the 800 win milestone in the pressure-packed PSAC playoffs when they face Mercyhurst University in the first round on Wednesday, May 1 at 1 p.m. in Quakertown, Pa.
By Bill Felo