Spicher homer sparks Skipjacks to playoff win
Three-run bomb backs Robinson’s pitching gem against Lions
WYE MILLS Most hitters appreciate having three strikes to work with in any given at bat. Sarah Spicher used Tuesday afternoon’s women’s softball playoff against CCBC-Dundalk to show one strike is more than enough for her.
Spicher started Chesapeake College’s NJCAA Division I Region XX playoff as the extra hitter in place of center fielder Linda Roark. With runners on first and second and no outs in the fourth inning of a scoreless game, Skipjacks head coach Durrie Hayes inserted Roark to attempt a sacrifice bunt.
Roark couldn’t move the runners up, so Hayes reinserted Spicher with a 1-2 count. Two pitches later, Spicher lined a shot off the scoreboard in left field for a three-run homer that sparked a five-run inning in what became a 5-0 victory.
"In bunting situations, it’s usually set up so that Linda can come in and move the runners around," explained Spicher, who said taking over an at bat with two strikes is "really nerve-wracking."
"You just have to focus on your job get a hit; don’t strike out; don’t let it (the pressure) get to you," she added.
"It was the move to make," said Hayes of putting Spicher in the batter’s box with two strikes. "Sarah’s been in a lot of big games, played in a couple of (high school) state championships. She can handle the pressure."
"It paid off for him. It was a smart move on Durrie’s part," said Dundalk head coach Les Dowling, whose Lions (23-12) were seeded seventh in the region.
Third-seeded Chesapeake (23-17) will take a five-game winning streak into this weekend’s four-team, double-elimination region final four. The Skipjacks play second-seeded CCBC-Catonsville (20-16) Saturday at 10 a.m. in the final four opener.
Top-seeded defending champion and host Cecil College (30-12) will play the survivor of Thursday’s three-team play-in between fourth-seeded Potomac State (24-8), fifth-seeded College of Southern Maryland (16-6), and sixth-seeded Hagerstown (12-13).
After Dundalk starting pitcher Mollie Coats followed Spicher’s homer by walking Becca Wooten, Dowling replaced Coats with Desiree Cornelison. Amber Labille then laid down a bunt that catcher Sara Duggan threw into right field, allowing Wooten to score. Two batters later, Labille scored on the front end of a double steal to make it 5-0
Ironically, Spicher’s home run was the only hit in an inning that included three walks, an error and a hit batsman.
The five-run outburst was more than enough for Chesapeake pitcher Kelsi Robinson, who threw a complete-game three-hitter. The sophomore left-hander who allowed just one earned run while pitching all 10 innings of a win over Hagerstown two days earlier walked two, struck out four and retired 16 straight Lions at one point.
"The umpire called a lot of good pitches and everyone made their plays," said Robinson. "That made it a lot easier to have confidence that we would pull it out."
It was certainly anyone’s game until the bottom of the fourth. Walks to Tiffeny Ricks and Anna Morris leading off the fourth set up Spicher’s dramatic homer, which seemed to rocket out of the park before hitting the scoreboard.
"It got out of here in a hurry," noted Hayes.
Coats and Cornelison combined on a five-hitter, but the six base runners bunched together in the fourth did them in.
"One bad inning sometimes it happens that way," said Dowling. "Give Chesapeake’s pitcher credit. She pitched a terrific game."
Hayes said Robinson’s performance in a 2-0 loss at Dundalk led him to select her over freshman Labille to start the playoff opener.
"She pitched a great game at Dundalk," said Hayes. "Neither of the runs at Dundalk were her fault both were unearned. It was a tough decision, but I decided to go with the crafty veteran left-hander."
This weekend’s regional final four will determine the region’s representative in the NJCAA Division I World Series. Spicher, for one, is ready.
"I think we’ve got a really good shot at winning the region," she said. "The World Series is only three wins away."
Notes: Becca English, Morris, Wooten and Labille joined Spicher with hits for the Skipjacks. Kallie Lucas, Duggan and Tiffany Proctor each had a hit for Dundalk. . .
Chesapeake matched the 2009 Region XX champion Skipjacks for the second-highest win total in team history at 23. Only last year’s 26-10 state championship squad finished with more wins.
The 2010 and 2011 teams have won 49 games, the highest two-year total in school history, while the 72 wins since 2009 are the most victories over three seasons.
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