New crew, same game

Published 10:46 am Friday, April 9, 2004

By By DAN WEISS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Despite starting an almost entirely different infield, the Brandywine varsity softball team picked up right where it left off last year.
The Bobcats reached the Division 3 championship game, but lost three starting infielders off that team, all of which earned First Team All-State honors.
Thursday morning the Bobcats, which are ranked No. 2 in the preseason Division 3 poll, had just one player in the same infield position as last season but swept a pair of Indiana teams to start the season with a 2-0 record.
Senior third baseman Kayla Asmus is the only player returning to her position and senior pitcher Nicki McGowen is back in the circle for Brandywine.
Senior Michelle Shoemaker was the catcher last year but started at first base Thursday. Junior Dee Echevarria started behind the plate while sophomore Kelli Zache started at second base and freshman Angela Newman started at shortstop.
The Bobcats already appeared to be a tough team to beat, topping Northridge 2-1 and South Bend Clay 10-0 in six innings.
McGowen tossed a pair of one-hitters and the Bobcats committed a total of three errors on the day.
The two victories on Thursday moved McGowen to within one win of 100 for her career. Her career pitching record is now 99-14.
McGowen not only helped the Bobcats defensively Thursday, she also managed two singles with an RBI against Northridge and a single and double with two RBIs against Clay.
As a team, Brandywine managed five hits against Northridge pitcher Morgan Hackman and 12 against Clay pitchers Cady Elliott and Scha Dickerson.
Against Northridge, the Bobcats scored one run in the second inning as Echevarria's short ground ball was overthrown past first base and Echevarria was able to reach home. The other run came in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by McGowen.
Northridge scored one run in the top of the seventh, but was unable to add to its run total.
It took Brandywine three innings to score against Clay, but then the runs came in waves.
Christiansen scored in the bottom of the third when Amanda Grice laid down a bunt single.
Christiansen's double to right center field scored Asmus in the bottom of the fourth.
The Bobcats added four runs in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a Clay error and a three-RBI double by Amber Valentine.
Shoemaker brought in a run with her single in the sixth as did Newman with a sacrifice fly. McGowen brought in the final two runs with a double to right center field.
Brandywine will take part in the Penn (Ind.) Invitational on Saturday and will face three more Indiana teams in Penn, Lafayette Jefferson and Merrillville.
Penn is ranked No. 9 in Class 4A while Lafayette Jefferson is ranked No. 11 in Class 4A.