Western entered yesterday's City-Wide A Conference softball championship series vs. Southern of Baltimore with a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series, a 2-0 record against the Bulldogs this season and ace pitcher Tracy Gruzs on the mound.
The Doves (12-1) seemed to be in a perfect position to sweep the series, and that's exactly what they did, defeating Southern, 8-2, at Riverside Park and capturing the conference title.
Gruzs, who was the winner in Western's 4-1 playoff victory over Poly on Monday and in the Doves' 8-4 victory in Game 1 of the series Wednesday, pitched another outstanding game, allowing three hits and striking out three.
The sophomore, who seemed to tire in the later innings of Wednesday's game, appeared to get stronger as yesterday's contest wore on, retiring the last 13 batters she faced.
Western benefited from two big innings to put away the Bulldogs (11-5). With the Doves trailing, 2-1, in the fourth, Sonya Jones and La'Tosha Williams opened the inning with back-to-back doubles. After two strikeouts by Southern pitcher Sandy Godleski, Kim Osborne singled home Williams and scored on the play on two Bulldogs throwing errors.
In the fifth, Western used three straight singles in a three-run inning.
"In every softball game, there are one or two big innings," said Western coach Diane Lawton. "We were fortunate enough to be on the right end of those two innings."
The Bulldogs took a 2-1 lead in the third inning when Chris Cavanaugh scored on a throwing error and Kimberly Thomas singled home a run.
"We seemed to have [Gruzs] on the ropes early," said Southern coach Jack Neussman, "but then she settled down and really got into a groove.