The momentum in yesterday's Class 4A East Regional softball playoff game swung to Westminster even before the first pitch.
During Arundel's infield warm-ups, a bad hop hit starting shortstop Tiffany Palmer square in the nose, sending her bloodied to the bench for the game's start.
"Losing our shortstop hurt emotionally," said Arundel coach Paul Yannuzzi. " ... Her teammates were sad, and that may be why we didn't play well the first couple of innings."
That aside, No. 12-ranked Westminster played well enough to win the opening-round game, no matter who was at shortstop for Arundel. And in the 5-2 victory, the Owls received another fine pitching effort from Nichol Moeller, who wound up with a game ball after also going 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs.
For Moeller, a junior who has played varsity for three seasons and pitched all but seven innings for the Owls (12-6) this season, the playoff win was the first of her career. She allowed six hits, struck out four and walked one.
"I think defense was the difference," she said. "We all wanted it."
She was being nice when she said that. Both runs off her were unearned - one in the top of the first inning was on a throwing error by catcher Casey Brengle on an attempted stolen base.
Jessica McCluney scored all the way from first base on the play, after the ball rolled past hard-charging center fielder Nikki Waltz, giving the Wildcats (10-9) a 1-0 lead.
The Owls retaliated in the bottom of the inning for two runs on singles by Shannon Hunt and Krystal Dixon and a two-out double by Moeller.
Westminster added a run in the third inning on Brengle's first home run this season.
Arundel scratched out a run in the fourth inning when Amber Cunningham reached first base after striking out on a wild pitch. After the Owls committed an infield error, Liz Hamlin doubled.
The Owls scored two more runs in the fifth on Sharon Bowen's second bunt single, a stolen base and an RBI single by Dixon. Moeller added another RBI single later in the inning.
The Owls will travel to play C. Milton Wright in the quarterfinals at 4 p.m. Monday.