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Kingsway tops W. Deptford for softball title

A bunt here. An infield single there. A running catch in the outfield. Three straight assists by the shortstop. A key strikeout.

A bunt here. An infield single there.

A running catch in the outfield. Three straight assists by the shortstop. A key strikeout.

Little things made a big difference yesterday as Kingsway beat West Deptford, 4-1, in the South Jersey Group 3 softball championship game.

"We came here ready to win," Kingsway coach Tony Barchuk said. "We found a way. We did just enough, and that's a credit to these girls."

Senior Jamie Minix pitched a complete game with seven strikeouts and also delivered a two-run single, as second-seeded Kingsway (20-3) advanced to Tuesday's state semifinals against Middletown South, a 3-2 winner over Monroe Township.

Senior shortstop Marlee Schramm had two hits and an RBI for top-seeded West Deptford (19-2). The Eagles' only losses this season were to the Dragons.

"It's the little things when you get to this level," said West Deptford coach Mandy Schramm, older sister of the team's shortstop. "When the ball was hit off our bat, they treated it like it was an out. They went and got it.

"We had a couple of unfortunate lapses, and it cost us. I've been trying to get these girls to think that way, to treat every ball as an out. That's the way Kingsway played today."

It was a game of dinks and dunks, of infield singles and bunt singles. Playing on a warm, sunny afternoon before a huge crowd at West Deptford, the teams combined for nine infield or bunt singles in the high-pressure atmosphere of a sectional championship game.

Kingsway got strong games from shortstop Arianna D'Acqua and third baseman Caitlyn Jenkins, who combined for seven assists. Centerfielder Caitlyn Higgins made a huge play with a running catch in the second inning.

Minix settled down after a rocky first inning. The righthander shut out West Deptford on four hits over the final six innings, facing just 22 batters.

"I was mixing it up a little bit after the first inning," Minix said. "They had seen me before [in the regular season], and I was sure they had improved as hitters, so I tried to change up my pitches."

Kingsway took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an outfield error, but West Deptford tied the score in the bottom of the inning when Schramm's groundout drove in Sam Leafy, who had reached on an infield single.

Kingsway seized command with three runs in the top of the second inning. The Dragons bunched together a single by Jenkins, a sacrifice bunt by freshman Dominique Ficara, and infield singles by Higgins and freshman Jesse Minix for one run. Jamie Minix drove in two more with a sharp single up the middle.

"I was just trying to put the ball in play," Jamie Minix said. "We scored, then they scored, then we came back and got three runs, and it was like, whew.

"When we got up three runs, it took all the pressure off us. We knew we could make a mistake and maybe let up a run and still be in front."

Junior Michelle Black pitched well for West Deptford, shutting down Kingsway over the final five innings. Black also had two singles.

Like Schramm, Barchuk said Kingsway's defense was the difference.

"We're good defensively up the middle, and that's how you win championships," he said.

Kingsway 130 000 0 - 4 11 1

West Deptford 100 000 0 - 1 8 2

WP: Jamie Minix. LP: Michelle Black. 2B: WD–Marlee Schramm.