Skipjacks hope to play all day
Chesapeake needs three wins Sunday to claim softball region
NORTH EAST None of the Skipjacks are hoping to be home on Mother’s Day and it’s nothing against Mom.
Chesapeake College (24-18) hopes to be playing softball all day Sunday, because that’s what it’s going to take for the third-seeded Skipjacks to win the NJCAA Division II Region XX title. After dropping a 3-2 decision to top-seeded Cecil College in Saturday afternoon’s winners’ bracket final, the Skipjacks need to eliminate Hagerstown Community College Sunday morning and beat Cecil (32-12) twice in the afternoon to wrestle the crown away from the defending champion Seahawks.
"It’s not impossible," said Chesapeake head coach Durrie Hayes, whose team rallied for a 7-3 win over second-seeded CCBC-Catonsville in Saturday’s opening game. "We’ve got two good pitchers and a team with a lot of heart."
The Skipjacks’ heart and pitching were both on display Saturday as Game 1 pitcher Amber Labille and Game 2 starter Kelsi Robinson each threw six-hit complete games.
Chesapeake erased a 2-0 deficit against Catonsville by exploding for seven runs in the fourth and fifth innings, but stranded nine base runners in trying to rally from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits against the Seahawks. The Skipjacks put the tying and go-ahead runs on base with a two-out, seventh-inning rally, but Anna Morris’ long flyout to left guaranteed Cecil a spot in Sunday’s title game.
"Amber and Kelsi both pitched good games, and we played well behind them," said Hayes.
Cecil’s Alexus McManaway pitched a six-hitter, went 3-for-3, drove in a pair of first-inning runs with the first of two doubles, and scored what proved to be the winning run in the fourth. McManaway doubled into the left-center-field gap leading off the fourth and Marissa Nickerson followed with a double down the right-field line to plate McManaway for a 3-1 lead.
Chesapeake pulled within 2-1 in the third on a run-scoring single by Becca English (2-for-4). The Skipjacks’ other run came courtesy of a sixth-inning walk to Tiffeny Ricks, a double by Sarah Spicher, and an illegal-pitch call against McManaway that plated Morris, who reached on a fielder’s choice.
In Game 1, Catonsville started strongly as pitcher Ashley Aberts was perfect through three innings and the Cardinal offense pushed across a pair of unearned, third-inning runs to take a 2-0 lead.
The Skipjacks, however, came right back with three runs in the top of the fourth. Aberts, who had been so efficient through three innings, walked Robinson and Janean Lowenberger to lead off the fourth, setting up English’s RBI single to left-center field. Tiffeny Ricks, given the green light on a 3-0 pitch, then singled to score Lowenberger with the tying run.
Catonsville head coach Chuck Slater then replaced Aberts with Meghan Black, who induced Morris into an infield grounder. The Cardinals tried to turn a double play on Morris’ ball, but Morris beat the throw to first and English scored the go-ahead run from second when the ball got away at first base.
The Skipjacks took control with a four-run fifth that included another pitching change after Black issued consecutive, one-out walks and went to 2-0 on Lowenberger. Rogers finished off the walk to Lowenberger, and uncorked a wild pitch that scored Ashley Muhleman before walking English. She then gave up a two-run double to Ricks (2-for-4, three RBI) that made it 6-2. Morris added a run-scoring groundout.
Labille, meanwhile, got stronger as the game went on. She gave up just one run over the final four innings, finishing with three strikeouts and just one walk. That was in sharp contrast to Catonsville’s pitchers, who only yielded five hits but combined for six walks.
The top third of Chesapeake’s batting order Robinson, Lowenberger and English were on base a total of seven times, including five walks, and each scored twice.
Notes: Cecil needed two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat Hagerstown, 6-5, in the first Saturday game for those teams. Hagerstown then eliminated Catonsville, 5-0, in the losers’ bracket.
"Hagerstown is as hot as anybody," said Hayes, whose Skipjacks swept Hagerstown, 9-0 and 6-5, in the regular season.
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