Skipjacks finish fourth in softball regional
Cougars oust Chesapeake in losers’ bracket semifinal, 9-8
HAGERSTOWN Last year, Chesapeake College’s softball team scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning to eke out a 9-8 victory over the College of Southern Maryland to qualify for the final day of the NJCAA Division II Region XX tournament. This year, Frederick Community College defeated Chesapeake, 9-8, with a run in the bottom of the seventh to prevent the Skipjacks from reaching the tournament’s final day.
Hillary Remsberg’s two-out bloop single behind first base scored Sasha Overton with the winning run as the Cougars advanced to the losers’ bracket finals. The loss forced Chesapeake (16-15) to settle for a fourth-place finish.
"I think the girls are proud of what we accomplished," said Chesapeake head coach Melissa Thompson, who guided the Skipjacks’ softball program to consecutive winning seasons for the first time since the 1980s. "I’ve never seen a group of girls jell so easily as a team. A lot of people came out of their shell. We have incredible girls on our team classy young women."
Chesapeake rallied from 4-2 and 8-7 deficits against Frederick, tying the game in the sixth inning as Heather Lawrence doubled home Heather Duncan. The Cougars, however, put themselves in position to win as Overton led off the bottom of the seventh with a double and moved to third with no outs on a Lawrence wild pitch.
The Skipjacks nearly escaped from that predicament. Lawrence forced two short flyouts around a walk, but Remsberg’s bloop hit advanced the Cougars.
"It was a good game, well-played and evenly matched," said Thompson, whose team suffered a pair of lopsided regular-season losses to Frederick.
Beth Morris (3-for-4, home run, two RBI), Heather Duncan (2-for-3, two RBI), and Heather Lawrence (2-for-4, two RBI) all had multi-hit games for the Skipjacks. Morris, making her first pitching start of the season, allowed eight runs (seven earned) on 11 hits and two walks with a strikeout in 4 2/3 innings.
"She’s been begging me to throw her for a while," Thompson said of Morris’ 2007 pitching debut. "Beth absolutely stepped up, gave everything she had. She very much wanted the ball."
Lawrence took the loss, giving up one run on four hits and a walk with two strikeouts in two innings.
Chesapeake opened the tournament with a 6-1 win over Harford Community College in the single-elimination round that set up the double-elimination Final Four. Lawrence threw a four-hitter with nine strikeouts and just one walk, while Morris (3-for-3, three RBI), Kim Towers (2-for-3, two RBI), and Jen Garey (2-for-3) provided the offensive with multi-hit games.
Morris’ two-run single in the bottom of the first gave the Skipjacks a 2-1 lead, and Towers’ two-run double in the home second made it 4-1. Duncan had a run-scoring single in the third and Morris delivered a fifth-inning run with a single to close the scoring.
Top-seeded host Hagerstown Community College the 2007 Maryland Junior College Athletic Association champion blanked the Skipjacks, 10-0 in five innings, in a winners’ bracket semifinal. Hawk pitcher Samantha Koeho handcuffed Chesapeake with a five-hit pitching effort that included seven strikeouts.
Hagerstown scored a run in the first and broke the game open with a four-run second built around three Chesapeake errors.
"The second inning was very ugly for us. We fell apart defensively," observed Thompson, whose team committed four errors against Hagerstown.
Losing pitcher Amanda Lord gave up nine hits, walking two and striking out one. Morris (triple) and Towers each went 2-for-2.
Thompson said her team made significant progress throughout the season despite injuries to key players including an ankle injury that kept first baseman Laura Foster out of the tournament and assistant coach Bill Faust’s heart attack that limited his time with the team.
"We improved a lot as the season went on," said Thompson, who was fortunate enough to have Faust in the dugout for the regional tournament. "There were a lot of external stresses the team had to deal with this season. I think injuries and then being down a coach after Bill’s heart attack hurt us.
"There were a lot of external stresses that as a coach I’d never experienced," continued Thompson. "We learned a lot about life. My grandmother passed away this season and the girls helped me through it. There were a lot of things that happened, but we fought hard all season long."
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