Westminster outfielder Gracie Gscheidle provided the pop and senior starter Laura Tipton did the rest as the Owls’ softball team soared past Manchester Valley on Wednesday.
Gscheidle hit a three-run homer in the first and sparked a rally with a fifth-inning double to back Tipton in the 11-1 victory over the visiting Mavericks, the second victory over Man Valley this week to open the spring season.
“They came out strong,” Owls coach April Sexton said of her offense. “They were able to hold them on defense before they got their going again in the later innings. They don’t give up. They keep pounding and pounding.”
Westminster scored five in the first with Gscheidle’s blast capping it off. Senior second baseman Lexi Smith started the inning with a double. Junior Taylor Coyle followed with a ringing triple that plated Smith and tied the game at 1-all.
Tipton followed with a ground ball up the middle to give the Owls a lead they would not relinquish. Senior catcher Bailey Schmitt followed with a walk to set the stage for Gscheidle.
The senior smashed the ball down the right field line and took off around the bases, stopping between first and second as confusion set in about whether the ball cleared the fence. The hit was eventually ruled a decisive three-run blast.
“I felt really good [at the plate],” Gscheidle said. “At first, I was confused because I didn’t know [the ball] went over the net. I almost lapped my teammate. It was the worst run ever, but it felt really good.”
Following the first-inning outburst, the Owls (2-0) hit a bit of a lull. Manchester Valley freshman Maddie Loudermilk pitched well in relief and kept Westminster silent until she ran into trouble in the final frame.
It was Gscheidle that woke up the Owls again with a double to open the six-run fifth inning. The outfielder scored on a single by sophomore Katie Easton, who scored two batters later on a groundout. With two outs, the Owls strung together four straight hits, culminating in a two-RBI single by Schmitt to end the game because of the 10-run rule.
“This group of girls is just so talented,” Gscheidle said of her team’s strong start. “We are a really cohesive unit. COVID messed things up a little bit but we came back strong. We’re ready to win.”
After initially struggling in the first inning, allowing a hit and a run, Tipton settled down and kept the Mavs off the board. She credited her curveball and changeup for keeping Man Valley off balance.
“It was just getting through that first inning and seeing what was working,” Tipton said. “After that it was a breeze, I felt good. My curveball was working the most, that was a lot of my strikeouts. My change-up also really got to them.”
For Man Valley (0-2), it has been a difficult start to the season with a second straight loss at the hands of the Owls.
“We battled but just too many mistakes today,” MV coach Mike Hernandez said. “[Westminster] hit the ball hard, played good defense. They deserved to win the game.”
Man Valley 100 00 – 1 3 1
Westminster 500 06 – 11 13 0
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W-Laura Tipton and Bailey Schmitt; MV – Arianna Hawn, Maddie Loudermilk (1) and Kayla Sholter. 2B: W-Lexi Smith 2, Gracie Gscheidle. 3B: W-Taylor Coyle. HR: W-Gscheidle.