WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – The Hilltoppers were Mountain East Conference champions for the second consecutive year and they found out Sunday night who their opponent will be.
Head Coach Herb Minch and his team are a #5 seed in the Division II Softball Tournament. It was informed Sunday it would be squaring off against #4 seeded and eastern Pennsylvania’s East Stroudsburg in the first round.
“We’ve been ready to go the last couple of weeks here and I thought we’ve played well. We’re continuing to work pretty hard at it and we don’t know a whole lot about East Stroudsburg yet but like I’ve told them all season, if they do their thing, I don’t think it matters who comes out on the field against us, we’re ready to play a game and have a good game,” Minch said.
A victory over East Stroudsburg would lead West Liberty to take on #1 seed and regional host Kutztown. The Hilltoppers did see Kutztown as well as another tam in the bracket, West Chester, who, like Kutztown, comes from the Keystone State. For now, Minch is only focused on the game in front of him.
“We got to go game by game (and) pitch by pitch; I tell them. You know, there’s some good teams in this tournament here. We did see two of them last Spring before the season… two of those teams (so) we have an idea of what we’re in to,” Minch said.
You’d be remiss not to mention Junior pitcher Makenzie Amend. She celebrated some impressive individual feats this season including become West Liberty’s all-time strikeouts leader and throwing the first no hitter in program history.
“I definitely couldn’t have thrown the no-hitter without my team. I had a couple teammates make some awesome plays for me. My centerfielder is in the last inning made a diving catch (and) I definitely couldn’t have done it without them,” Amend said.
Amend is confident in the team’s ability on the road.
“I don’t think we have anything to struggle with. I think we proved that in the conference tournament,” Amend said.
Minch explained the factors in the Hilltoppers’ successful campaign.
“I think its the culmination of the experience that we have with the demeanor and the mindset that they’ve come through physically and mentally and matured as a team and its got us to where we’ve played well down the stretch and they’re continuing to mature so I expect bigger and better things out of them,” Minch said.
West Liberty’s game versus East Stroudsburg is on Wednesday at 10:00 AM. Minch said he has not made a final decision yet on who his starting pitcher will be.