’Jacks face long road to regional repeat
Chesapeake blanked by Cecil after rallying past Hagerstown
NORTH EAST Adversity always seems to bring out the best in the Skipjacks. They’ll need that quality in abundance Sunday if they are to battle back and successfully defend their NJCAA Division II Region XX women’s softball championship.
Top-seeded Chesapeake College’s tenacity was on display in Saturday’s winners’ bracket semifinals, with the Skipjacks rallying from a 6-0, sixth-inning deficit to beat fourth-seeded Hagerstown Community College, 7-6. The Skipjacks, however, were then dropped into the losers’ bracket as Cecil College, the third-seeded host, blanked Chesapeake, 2-0.
Chesapeake (25-9) must beat second-seeded CCBC-Catonsville (27-11) in Sunday morning’s losers’ bracket final and then take two from Cecil (27-11) to win the region championship. While that’s a tall order, Chesapeake head coach Durrie Hayes wouldn’t bet against his team pulling off that feat.
"It is a lot to ask," conceded Hayes. "Can we? Yes, we can. I don’t put anything past these girls."
The Skipjacks will also have to overcome an injury to pitcher/first baseman Kelsi Robinson, who needed eight stitches to close a gash on her right leg sustained in the Cecil contest. Robinson received the injury when a Cecil baserunner kicked her during a play around first base.
"We’re going to have to evaluate her injury and see whether or not Kelsi can play," said Hayes. "Playing may be one thing, but pitching with that injury could be another."
Robinson was the winning pitcher against Hagerstown (17-13), scattering nine hits and two walks while striking out seven. Her pitching kept the Skipjacks in the game until their bats heated up in the sixth inning.
Tiffeny Ricks and Jill Piasecki (2-for-4, two RBI) had sixth-inning, RBI singles to pull the Skipjacks within 6-2. Chesapeake then won the game with a five-run seventh.
Megan Johnson opened the bottom of the seventh with a hit, followed by walks to Chelsea Hunt and Melanie Buck that loaded the bases. A Robinson groundout scored Johnson and Jordan Wright (2-for-3, walk, two runs, two RBI) followed with a two-run double to left that pulled the Skipjacks within 6-5.
Janean Lowenberger then tripled to right, scoring Wright with the tying run. After Ricks was intentionally walked, Piasecki laid down a game-winning suicide squeeze to complete the rally.
"It was absolutely perfect," Hayes said of Piasecki’s squeeze. "Janean came in standing up. There wasn’t even a play at the plate."
The Chesapeake-Cecil contest was a scoreless pitchers’ duel between Ferguson and Wright until the sixth inning when Ferguson tripled and scored on a groundout to give herself a 1-0 lead. Brittany Walter provided a seventh-inning insurance run with an RBI double.
Ferguson struck out 10 Skipjacks. Wright matched Ferguson’s three-hitter while walking five (three intentionally) and striking out two.
Hayes said the Skipjacks’ best chance to come back Sunday and win a championship is to take it one game at a time.
"The first thing is to get past Catonsville," said Hayes.
Chesapeake 9, Garrett College 2
Chesapeake 10, Garrett College 4
WYE MILLS The Skipjacks (34-15 overall, 19-9 Maryland JuCo) completed their most successful regular season in school history Saturday by sweeping Garrett College to guarantee themselves one of the top two seeds in the upcoming Division I Region XX tournament.
Nick Beall went 4-for-4, scored twice and drove in two runs to lead Chesapeake in its Game 1 win as winning pitcher Devin Gardner threw a four-hitter. Adam Chambers went 2-for-2 with five RBI, including a three-run double in a five-run second inning that rallied the Skipjacks from a 2-0 deficit.
A full report of the doubleheader will appear in Monday’s Star Democrat.
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