Athletics News

Softball

Skipjacks, Seahawks showcase skills
Each team states its case for top spot in state standings

WYE MILLS – Thursday’s Chesapeake College-Cecil College women’s softball doubleheader allowed each team an opportunity to showcase their considerable talents. Both teams did just that – but in opposite ends of the twin bill, leading to a split.

Cecil pitching ace Katie Ferguson allowed just one walk and one hit – Melanie Buck’s bunt single leading off the home sixth – while striking out 14, and the Seahawks played flawless defense in posting a 5-0 win in the opener. That victory snapped Chesapeake’s 12-game winning streak and briefly left Chesapeake, Cecil and CCBC-Catonsville all with one league loss.

Chesapeake (20-4 overall, 13-1 Maryland JuCo) answered by unleashing its special mixture of pitching, speed and power in the nightcap. Jordan Wright provided the pitching with a three-hit, complete-game effort and Jill Piasecki – whose Game 1 pitching start lasted just nine batters – was the poster child for the Skipjacks’ offense. She started a four-run second inning by lining a leadoff triple to right field, then laid down what turned into a two-run suicide squeeze as part of another four-run rally in the fifth.

"I just had to make up for that (pitching start)," Piasecki said of her inspired Game 2 performance. "I couldn’t let myself stay down."

Chesapeake head coach Durrie Hayes said Piasecki’s performance was mirrored in his team’s Game 2 effort.

"Katie Ferguson just dominated us in the opener," said Hayes. "The question becomes, how do you respond to that? Jordan responded with a great pitching effort, Jill was in the middle of both of our big rallies, and we got the running game going – small ball, bunting and stealing." Ferguson, meanwhile, said the Seahawks (20-8, 10-2) accomplished what they needed to accomplish in the opener.

"It gives our team confidence," said Ferguson, who starred at North East High in Cecil County. "We heard Chesapeake was the team to beat. We definitely wanted to make a statement that we were a team to be reckoned with as well."

The Chesapeake-Cecil contest marked the beginning of a week matching Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference contenders. Cecil plays second-place CCBC-Catonsville (18-6, 9-1) in a Saturday doubleheader, while Chesapeake travels Monday to Hagerstown (11-9, 3-3) and hosts Catonsville next Wednesday in a pair of league doubleheaders. Hagerstown has already split doubleheaders with both Cecil and Catonsville.

Hayes said he tried to put the Skipjacks’ first league loss into perspective between games of the doubleheader.

"I told the girls, ’If you woke up in February and thought we were going undefeated in this league . . . that’s not realistic,’ " said Hayes. "Cecil was better than we were in the first game, but we had to respond to that loss – and we did."

The Seahawks took control of the opener with a three-run, first-inning rally in which all the runs were scored after two outs. Brittanie Walter delivered a run-scoring double and Alexis McManaway added a two-run single up the middle two batters later to make it 3-0.

Rachel Aultman led off the second with a second, leading Hayes to replace Piasecki with Kelsi Robinson. The freshman from Calvert County allowed just two runs on four hits and two walks, striking out five in six innings, but Ferguson simply slammed the door on the Skipjacks’ offense.

The Skipjacks had much better success against McManaway, Cecil’s Game 2 starter. Chesapeake put together its two, four-run rallies against McManaway, finishing with 10 hits and nearly invoking the slaughter rule in the sixth.

Piasecki (2-for-3, two runs, two RBI) was the only Skipjack with multiple hits in Game 2 while Megan Johnson (three RBI) capped the four-run fifth with a titanic home run to left. Buck – who stopped Ferguson’s no-hit bid six batters short of success in the opener – had a run-scoring groundout and an infield hit.

The Skipjacks scored all the runs they needed in the four-run second, which illustrated the effectiveness of Chesapeake’s running game.

Piasecki opened the inning by lining her triple just inside the right-field line and Courtney Aubel walked. Johnson then hit a grounder that was misplayed by shortstop Brie Puican – who seemed distracted by Piasecki’s break for home with the game’s first run. Becca English followed with a bunt single to load the bases, and Buck’s groundout scored Aubel to make it 2-0.

Robinson then grounded back to McManaway, whose throw to first retired Robinson as Johnson scored from third. When first baseman Jackie Amend threw wide to home plate trying to nail Johnson, English scored as well to make it 4-0.

The fifth-inning rally was more of the same. Wright and Janean Lowenberger opened the inning with consecutive bunt singles, with Wright moving up on a passed ball before Lowenberger stole second. Piasecki then laid down her suicide squeeze, followed by Johnson’s homer two batters later.

Notes: The Skipjacks have now registered consecutive, 20-win seasons for the first time in college history. Chesapeake won a school-record 23 games last year on the way to claiming the NJCAA Division II Region XX championship.

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