Combined no-hitter for Amend, Bennington; Cook, Beeman launch home runs
KUTZTOWN, Pa. – Makenzie Amend and Riley Bennington combined on a no-hitter and the West Liberty University softball team breezed to a 7-0 victory against East Stroudsburg here Wednesday in an NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional opener on Kutztown University’s North Campus Field diamond.
Coach Herb Minch’s two-time defending Mountain East Conference champion Hilltoppers (36-15) will take on top-seeded and No. 25-ranked Kutztown Thursday at 10 a.m. in a winner’s bracket semifinal. The host Golden Bears (32-13) received a first-round bye.
Amend was virtually untouchable through the first six innings to earn the win with Bennington hurling the seventh to complete the no-hit gem. The Hilltopper right-handers combined for 11 strikeouts without a walk while facing the minimum 21 batters in a dominating performance.
East Stroudsburg’s only runner came on an infield error with two out in the fourth but she was quickly cut down trying to steal by All-Region catcher Kat Donzella to end the inning.
Meanwhile, the West Liberty bats raked a pair of Warrior pitchers for 10 hits with half of them going for extra bases and two of them leaving the yard.
Annie Paterson got things started with a two-run double in the top of the first and the Black and Gold used the long ball to break things open in the fifth.
Allie Cook made it 4-0 in the fifth when she curled a two-run home run around the right field foul pole and Katie Beeman followed with a solo blast that cleared the fence with room to spare for a 5-0 West Liberty lead.
The Hilltoppers tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the top of the sixth. Back-to-back doubles by Sidney Little and Laral Saunders produced the first run. Saunders later crossed the plate on an infield grounder by Amend, who helped her own cause with a pair of singles on the day.
Amend, the MEC and Atlantic Region Pitcher of the Year, struck out 10 batters during her 6-inning stint to blow past the 500-strikeout career milestone with 504 “Ks.” Bennington needed just seven pitches to close up shop in the seventh.