WILLIAMSPORT — Traveling northbound on U.S. Route 23 towards Williamsport, Northwest coach Lora West knew what her team was going up against Friday evening.
After handing Adena an 11-3 loss this past Tuesday, the Mohawks’ next task was a mighty one, coming against top-seeded Westfall. The Mustangs welcomed West’s group before earning a slim 8-6 victory to end Northwest’s season in a Division III sectional championship.
But make no mistake about it: the Mohawks gave Westfall everything they wanted, and then some.
“My defense didn’t commit a single error tonight and we’ve worked our tails off to get to that point,” West said. “We had a practice on Wednesday and we just beat the ball to them. That showed. Hard work pays off and our defense held. [Westfall] can hit anything … in, out, change, curve … but our girls have nothing to hang their heads about.”
The Mohawks (10-14) end their season having won seven of their last 12 contests. That’s a significant turnaround from the beginning of the year, after starting 2-8.
“At the beginning of the season, we were coming home with 11 strikeouts that night. We were struggling,” West said. “It was a lot of cage work, tee work … hard work wins ball games and we put the work in. If we come into next season with the same work ethic, the sky’s the limit for us.”
Friday, Westfall (22-4) jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Liz Stonerock drew a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the first inning. The Mohawks answered in the second, scoring on an RBI double via senior Laiken Rice.
Darby Minor put the Mustangs back in front with an RBI single in bottom half before Lydia Emmons and Addi Newman both logged RBIs in the third, putting Northwest up 3-2. But in Westfall’s next at bat, Sami Tackett hit a two-run homer, Minor logged another RBI single and Ayzia Fullen played long ball with a two-run shot to straight away center field.
Northwest, down 8-3, had the choice to either keep fighting or lay down and die. The Mohawks chose the former instead of the latter.
Lexi Throckmorton knocked in Jaclyn Burchett in the top of the fourth before Sara Smith stole home on a double steal play, cutting Westfall’s lead to 8-5. The Mohawks’ final run came in the fifth when Rice logged her second RBI of the evening.
Unfortunately, Westfall pitcher Marcy Dudgeon held the Mohawks at bay from that point on … but not before a valiant effort from a team that wasn’t expected to be in the ballgame.
“We knew coming in that it was going to be a battle,” West said. “We showed up for battle and we didn’t give up.”
Rice finished 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI while Emmons was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs. Lexi Lute also contributed, finishing 1-for-4 with a run and a double.
Westfall was led by Minor, who was 3-for-4 with three RBIs. Fullen finished 2-for-3 with a homer and two RBIs while Tackett ended the evening 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs.
The Mohawks are now forced to say goodbye to two starting seniors in Rice and Smith.
“Laiken Rice is our number one catcher and she’s the kind of kid that you want your daughter to grow up and be like,” West said. “She’s a hard worker, she’s good to everybody and she will do anything a coach asks her to do at anytime. Sara Smith is another senior and she gives her all every night. She’s got the heart of a giant. The girl is five foot tall but she gets it done.”
While Rice and Smith certainly leave two big pairs of shoes to fill, the future is bright in McDermott.
“You take the example that our seniors this year set, and the work ethic they had, and you keep
it going,” West said. “We won’t be the same team but we’re going to use what our seniors taught us. We’re going to make every pitch matter. We just have to put in the work.”
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