Focus on Sports
Skipjacks settle for third in softball regional

Posted on Monday, May 08, 2006

HAGERSTOWN – Long on determination but short on depth, the Chesapeake College women´s softball team had to settle for third place in the NJCAA Division II Region XX championship tournament.

Top-seeded Community College Baltimore County-Catonsville defeated the third-seeded Skipjacks, 12-4, in Sunday morning´s losers´ bracket final. The Cardinals used an eight-run third inning to break a 3-3 tie against Chesapeake, which was beginning to show the wear-and-tear of playing four games in two days with a 10-player roster.

"We had people playing sick and people playing hurt, but everyone played hard," said Chesapeake head coach Melissa Thompson, whose team finished with a 20-10 record that set a new school mark for wins in a season.

Catonsville, dropped into the losers´ bracket by Saturday´s upset loss to second-seeded Hagerstown Community College, used a three-run second inning to take a 3-0 lead. The Skipjacks, however, jumped right back into the game as Beth Morris crushed a three-run, third-inning homer off Catonsville pitcher Michelle Davis to create a 3-3 tie.

The Cardinals regained the momentum with their eight-run third inning, which was built on four hits and four Chesapeake errors. Chris Simmers´ two-run double off losing pitcher Heather Lawrence broke the 3-3 tie and put the Cardinals ahead to stay.

Catonsville used the win to advance to the region final against Hagerstown, needing to beat the host Hawks twice to win the championship and move on to the NJCAA Division II national tournament.

Chesapeake won two tournament games, including a 9-8 losers´ bracket victory over the College of Southern Maryland in which the Skipjacks came from behind three times. Their tournament fate, however, may have been best defined by their 3-2 loss to Hagerstown on Saturday afternoon.

Morris – an outstanding hitter and infielder who was used infrequently this season as a pitcher – threw a no-hitter against Hagerstown, but issued four of her eight walks in the bottom of the seventh as the Hawks scored all three of their runs.

"We were one strike away from maybe winning the region championship," said Thompson, who thought the momentum generated by beating Hagerstown might have carried the Skipjacks to the title.

Chesapeake´s 18-8 regular season included an 8-1 triumph over Catonsville – the Cardinals´ only loss in 15 regular-season games against Division II Region XX opponents.

"We made a huge improvement this year," said Thompson, contrasting this season with last year´s 4-14 campaign. "We have a good group of coachable girls returning next year. I´m really optimistic about next season."


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