WC will have to come out of losers bracket to capture conference crown

CHESTERTOWN — It’s been an unscripted start to the Centennial Conference softball tournament with the top-seeded Shore ladies being sent to the losers bracket after their first game and weather and field conditions over the weekend forcing a change in the tournament format.

Washington, in survivor mode after an 11-2 thumping at the hands of fourth seed Muhlenberg on May 2, must win when tournament play resumes Friday, May 10 in Chestertown.

Meantime, third seed Gettysburg (27-11), which was able to get in its winners bracket game on Saturday, May 4, is one win away from its sixth Centennial championship.

In the opening round of the double-elimination tournament on May 2, Gettysburg took advantage of four Swarthmore errors in the top of the fifth inning to plate four runs without the benefit of a hit and record a 4-1 victory.

Left-hander Paige Forry, the 2023 conference pitcher of the year, scattered five hits while going the distance. Her line included five strikeouts and one walk.

Swarthmore, the second seed, is the defending conference champion.

In the other game on May 2, in Chestertown, five-time Centennial champ Muhlenberg (25-15) pushed five runs across in the top of the fifth inning to end a scoreless tie and salted away the win with five more runs in the seventh for an 11-2 final.

The Shore ladies (20-18-1) had two runners in scoring position with two away in the last of the second and third innings, but were not able to capitalize.

They ultimately dented the scoreboard with two runs in the home half of the sixth, but by then Muhlenberg had built what turned out to be an insurmountable lead.

The Mules played small ball in their five-run fifth, using a bunt single, two stolen bases and some aggressive baserunning, and big ball in the five-run seventh. Junior Kaya Mahy capped the scoring with a grand slam to right center.

Muhlenberg, which had stranded two runners in scoring position through the first four innings, finally got to senior Lexi Barnhart (8-9) in the top of the fifth.

Jane Banahan, pinch running for Ava Calabrese (one-out walk) went to second on a wild pitch and raced to third when Peri Kahn beat the throw on a bunt to the right of the mound.

After Kahn stole second, Sophia Cicchetti dropped a ball into left-center that brought in Banahan with the game’s first run, and hustled into second for a double.

Mahy singled in the second run and, after stealing second, scored behind Cicchetti on Scooter Hulsen’s base hit to left-center for a 4-0 lead.

With still just one away, Lillie Teague lined a single up the middle that was deflected into right field, and Hulsen came all the way around from first to score.

Hulsen’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly with one away in the sixth — after Kahn and Cicchetti singled back to back and Mahy was hit by a pitch — made it 6-0.

Washington removed its goose egg in the last of the sixth when Lilly Wenzel homered to left-center with one away. Julia Guzman, running for Barnhart (one-out walk), was aboard.

Gracelyn Goforth (2-for-3) singled to left-center to keep the inning going, but Justine Bergara, who came on in relief in the fourth, retired the next two batters on a flyout to left-center and a line drive to second base to thwart the rally.

Muhlenberg put the game out of reach with Mahy’s bases-loaded home run off of reliever Gen Kozub. It was Mahy’s second grand slam in two weeks; she is the only player in program history to have two grand slams in a season.

Cicchetti went 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored, moving closer to the Centennial Conference records of 53 runs scored and 68 hits in a season; with at least one more game to play, she has 52 runs scored and 66 hits.

Cicchetti also stole her CC-record 45th base of the season.

Kahn finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored, and Mahy (2-for-4) drove in five runs and scored two.

Bergara (two strikeouts) scattered three hits and two walks on the way to her 13th win of the season. She struck out a batter with runners on second and third to keep the game scoreless in the fourth.

Senior Raya Kunes pitched the first three innings; she gave up two hits, issued one walk and struck out one batter.

The Mules, who tied the program record of 11 runs in a playoff game, outhit their hosts, 13-5.

Barnhart was tagged with the loss. She gave up six runs, all earned, and 11 hits, while issuing two walks and striking out two batters.

Washington played error free in the field.


Washington will host second seed Swarthmore (22-9) at 1 p.m. Friday, May 10. The loser will be eliminated from the tournament, while the winner will face off against Muhlenberg, 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.

Action resumes Saturday, May 11 at 1 p.m. in Chestertown with Gettysburg taking on the winner of the losers bracket.

Another game, if necessary (i.e., if Gettysburg loses) will follow 30 minutes later.


A 5-4 loss at Gettysburg on Saturday, May 4 sent Muhlenberg to the losers bracket.

Gettysburg scored four runs in the second inning to open up a 5-2 lead and held on for the win.


The Centennial Conference champion is an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Washington captured the conference crown in 2013 and has been the runner-up twice, to McDaniel in 2012 and to Haverford in 2016.


Per Centennial Conference rules, admission charges for playoff games are as follows: adults, $10; students ages 6 through high school, $5; senior citizens, $5; children under the age of 5, free; and college students, faculty and staff of Centennial schools, free.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, see the Centennial Conference softball page, https://centennial.org/sports/2023/8/25/2024%20sb%20championship.aspx.

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