FAIRMONT — After securing their first-ever MEC Championship in softball on Sunday against the West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats, it was those same Bobcats who turned the tables on the Fairmont State Falcons, eliminating them from the NCAA D2 Atlantic Region tournament on Friday.
The Bobcats bested the Falcons 3-1 in what was Fairmont State’s second game of the day in Kutztown, Pa., the site of this year’s tournament.
No. 8 Fairmont had pulled off an upset over No. 4 Mercyhurst earlier in the day, eliminating them 8-3 at noon on Friday, but after fighting off one opponent, their MEC rivals proved too much.
Against the Mercyhurst Lakers, Shelby Reed led the Falcons with three hits and two RBI’s. The Lakers got out to a first-inning 2-0 lead, but Fairmont State put together five unanswered runs to get out in front by the end of the third.
Reed also pitched a complete game, allowing five hits and two walks for three earned runs.
Reed grabbed the win in the game, while Mercyhurst’s Morgan Hilty took the loss, as the Falcons brought in four runs against her in 1.2 innings pitched.
Fairmont State stole four bases against the Lakers, with Alexa Andrews swiping two bags, and Katy Darnell and Courtney Moyer each stealing one.
Reed’s three hits were tied for the team-high with Andrews and Hannah Workman. Reed’s two RBI’s were also tied for a team-high with Moyer.
Caitlyn Kassay took the mound for Fairmont State against West Virginia Wesleyan, and pitched seven innings, allowing two earned runs on seven hits and one walk, striking out four.
For the Bobcats, Abigail O’Shields pitched the entirety of the game, allowing one run on seven hits and two walks, striking out three.
Fairmont State was held scoreless until the bottom of the sixth, by which point West Virginia Wesleyan had put together three runs. Molly Osborne’s single in the third brought home Grace Hightower, and another single from Osborne in the fifth scored Paije Bragg.
In the sixth, the Bobcats extended their lead to 3-0 as Destiny Alvarado knocked a single to centerfield that scored Shelby Kennedy. The Falcons finally got on the board courtesy of Peyton Wetherholt, who lifted a ball over the left field fence for a solo home run.
Errors were trouble for Fairmont State on Friday. The Falcons committed two in the game, the second of which cost Fairmont State — allowing Shelby Kennedy to reach base safely in the sixth, who came around to score.
Wetherholt’s homer came in the first at-bat of Fairmont State’s turn at the plate in the sixth, and the Falcons looked poised to tack on more runs late in the contest with Moyer and Brooke Schmitt both hitting singles to put runners on first and second with one out.
A pop-out in foul territory and a swinging strikeout cooled the temperature for Fairmont State though.
Fairmont State left eight runners on base Friday, while West Virginia Wesleyan stranded six. Both teams totaled seven hits, while Fairmont State actually walked more (two to one) and struck out less (three to four). The Bobcat’s spurts of offense were simply better-timed than the Falcons who did not help themselves with a pair of errors.
Three outs in four batters got Fairmont State back up to the plate quickly for the bottom of the seventh, but a ground out and line out made two quick outs. Hannah Workman doubled to right-center to keep hope alive — the only extra-base hit in the game for Fairmont State aside from Wetherholt’s home run — but the next batter popped out to end the contest.
The Bobcat’s one and two-hole hitters, Grace Hightower and Molly Osborne supplied the majority of the offense for West Virginia Wesleyan. The pair combined for five of their team’s seven hits, with Osborne recording two RBI’s and Hightower scoring one run.
West Virginia Wesleyan gets some measure of revenge against the Falcons, who beat the No. 1-seeded Bobcats 7-4 to clinch the MEC conference title on May 8. The championship win was the highpoint of a rollercoaster ride season that ends with Fairmont State having a 23-26 record.
Caitlyn Kassay, Peyton Wetherholt, and Emily Riggs were all named to the MEC All-Tournament Team, with Riggs being named the MEC tournament MVP. The trio are set to continue their playing days, with Kassay being a junior, Riggs being a sophomore, and Wetherholt being a freshman.