Losses serve as learning experiences
’Jacks drop tight defensive battles to two former national champs
MIMS, Fla. The Skipjacks didn’t beat any national champions during their spring break trip, but they learned close up what it takes to be one.
"You look at it as an opportunity," said Chesapeake College head women’s softball coach Durrie Hayes, whose team played former national champions close on consecutive days in a pair of low-scoring losses. "You’re playing a perennial national power. There shouldn’t be any pressure you just go out and play softball like you have your whole life."
Heartland (Ill.) Community College, the 2009 NJCAA Division II national champion, held off the Skipjacks, 5-3, on Wednesday and reigning Division III national champ Gloucester County (N.J.) College edged Chesapeake, 3-1, on Thursday.
The Skipjacks also dropped a 4-3 decision to Lakeland (Ohio) Community College on Thursday as Lakeland rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win, 4-3, on Megan Juratovac’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh. Chesapeake, which won six of its first seven games on the Florida trip, dropped its final three.
"Overall, it was a good trip for us," said Hayes. "It’s a shame we didn’t come out with a better record we could have easily won another game or two but I’d have to say we exceeded our expectations. This was by far the strongest field we’ve played down here."
The Skipjacks spent the final five games of their trip adjusting to playing without shortstop Samantha Greenwell, who injured her shoulder halfway through the spring break schedule of games.
"We had to move our second baseman to shortstop, our center fielder to second base, our right fielder to center, and our catcher to right field," said Hayes, who also lost his number three hitter with Greenwell out of the lineup.
The reworked defense had some issues during the team’s three consecutive losses to end the trip. Chesapeake surrendered the tying score to Lakeland on an unearned run, and the last two runs in the loss to Gloucester were unearned.
Hayes was most pleased with his squad’s inspired effort against Heartland (20-5). The Hawks, currently ranked sixth in NJCAA Division II, rolled to a 5-0 lead as Danielle Burge drove in four runs, including a three-run homer in the fourth inning.
Heartland had the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth with a chance to potentially invoke the eight-run mercy rule, but the Skipjacks got out of the inning with the help of a timely double play.
"Our girls were hell-bent on not being slaughter-ruled," said Hayes.
The Skipjacks had little luck with Heartland ace Elizabeth Wilson, who allowed one hit through the first five innings, but got to reliever Kelsie Kuhlmann in the seventh.
Danni Hintermeister had a run-scoring single, Erin Scarborough delivered an RBI double, and Amber LaBille single in a run to make it 5-3. The Hawks then brought back Wilson, who induced a game-ending popup from Darian McCoy.
LaBille took the loss, working around nine hits and five walks to keep the Skipjacks in the game. She also struck out seven.
"Amber pitched a really nice game," said Hayes.
Chesapeake looked on the way to victory against Lakeland, taking a 3-0 lead in the first as LaBille delivered a run-scoring single and McCoy (2-for-3) followed with a two-run double.
"Then somebody turned the switch off," said Hayes. "We just stopped hitting."
Chesapeake pitcher Cheyenne Riley took a no-hitter into the fourth, but Ashley Puscian crashed a two-run homer to get Lakeland on the board and Lakeland tied the game with an unearned run in the fifth. Lakeland completed its comeback in the seventh as Maryssa Sanelli doubled off the left-field line, stole third and scored on Juratovac’s sac fly.
Riley allowed seven hits and one walk with three strikeouts.
LaBille pitched well again against Gloucester, spacing six hits and a walk while striking out eight and allowing just one earned run, but Chesapeake’s three errors proved to be the Skipjacks’ undoing.
"Amber deserved a better fate," observed Hayes.
Michelle Lawrenson and Erin Scarborough each had two hits, and combined to produce Chesapeake’s only run. Lawrenson doubled, moved to third on a Hintermeister sacrifice bunt and scored on Scarborough’s single as Chesapeake took a 1-0, third-inning lead.
Gloucester (7-2) scored single runs in the fourth, fifth and seventh to earn the victory.
The Skipjacks, who returned from Florida on Friday, host Bergen County (N.J.) College Monday in a 2:30 p.m. doubleheader and play a critical, early season doubleheader at Hagerstown Community College Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.
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