University of Charleston's Ayla Santos gets caught in a rundown and is tagged out by Concord's Jessica Seymour.
Ray Loeser knows he inherited a good situation when he took over the University of Charleston softball program. That was reinforced Wednesday afternoon as his Golden Eagles swept Concord in a doubleheader, 4-1 and 12-4.The Eagles improved to 26-14 overall, 14-2 in the West Virginia Conference, and solidified their second-place standing with 10 regular-season games left. They were picked seventh in the league's preseason poll.For now, Loeser is winning with the players recruited by previous coach Annette Olenchick, without exception. He was comfortable with that when he was hired last August."I'm not responsible for any of these kids," Loeser said. "I took over and honored the 19 scholarships and the two walk-ons. Before I got here, the program still won. It's not like you're taking over a program that was 5-40."
Loeser came to UC after four seasons as the assistant coach at Arkansas Tech, where he helped lead the Golden Suns won three Gulf South Conference division titles. And yes, Arkansas Tech is the same school basketball coach Mark Downey came from."He called and said, 'Hey, are you interested?' and I said, 'Yeah,'" Loeser recalled. "I applied for the job and interviewed and, lo and behold, I got it."Early home runs put UC ahead for good in both games, with Janeen Vasquez striking in the first game and Logan Tretick smacking a first-inning shot in the nightcap. Vasquez, hitting a team-high .438 with 24 RBIs, also smacked three doubles in the second game.The two local products among the starters are Winfield's Ashlea Wallace, a four-year starter at shortstop, and Nitro sophomore Angela Withrow, who played designated hitter and third base Wednesday. Withrow has five home runs, second on the team behind Aspen Eichelmeier's six.
Loeser calls Wallace (.316 batting average) the most athletic player on his team, possibly the entire WVC.UC has clinched its seventh straight winning season, but was reminded last weekend who is boss of the WVC - West Virginia Wesleyan, who swept a doubleheader 18-2 and 4-3 last weekend in Buckhannon.The Bobcats, winners of 17 regular-season WVC championships and 15 tournament titles since 1992, will do that."You're sitting on a 12-game winning streak, you're thinking you're doing pretty well," Loeser said. "You run in there, hit a solo home run in the second inning, and the next thing you know you've just given up 13 runs on 11 hits, made five errors and used three pitchers."Freshman Emily Fultz (17-7, 2.06 ERA) recovered from the disaster at Wesleyan to scatter six hits in Wednesday's opener, striking out 12 and giving up one unearned run. The Golden Eagles helped pitchers Kelsee Blackwell and Courtney Fain in the nightcap, scoring seven in the bottom of the fifth to invoke the eight-run mercy rule.UC plays doubleheaders at 1 p.m. Saturday against Shepherd and 1 p.m. Sunday against Seton Hill, both at home.Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org
, or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.