Focus on Sports
'Jack comeback stuns CSM, sets up sweep

Monday, April 26, 2010

WYE MILLS – Just when you think you´ve seen it all . . .

"I´ve been on a lot of good softball teams with a lot of comebacks, but I´ve never seen anything like that," said Chesapeake College´s Tiffeny Ricks after the Skipjacks rallied from a 5-0, seventh-inning deficit Saturday afternoon to beat the College of Southern Maryland, 8-7 in eight innings.

Ricks put the finishing touches on the comeback, drilling a two-run double to cap a three-run rally in the bottom of the eighth inning. Ricks´ hit scored Melanie Buck and Jordan Wright and stunned the visiting Hawks, who had just scored twice in the top half of the inning to seemingly regain control.

Chesapeake – which earlier in the week clinched a share of its first state title in 29 years – then jumped on CSM for three first-inning runs on the way to an 8-3 triumph in the nightcap. The Skipjacks (24-8) set a new school record for victories – breaking the one set by last year´s region championship squad – as Becca English went 3-for-3 with two doubles, two runs and four RBI in Game 2.

"It was easier in the second game since we had just seen her," said English, alluding to CSM´s decision to pitch ace Cristin Hutchinson in both games of the doubleheader. "I saw some really nice pitches right down the middle of the plate, so you just had to make contact and it would go somewhere."

Hutchinson actually took a one-hit shutout into the bottom of the seventh inning in Game 1. The Skipjacks began their rally with six straight batters reaching safely, with Wright and Ricks delivering run-scoring hits and Janean Lowenberger walking within the bases loaded to make it a 5-3 game.

One out later, English plated Wright (2-for-5, two RBI) with a fielder´s choice. That pulled Chesapeake within 5-4, but also brought the Hawks within one out of victory. Hutchinson worked Courtney Aubel to a 0-2 count before Aubel singled to score Ricks and create a 5-5 tie.

Two Skipjacks errors – out of five they committed in Game 1 – helped CSM take a 7-5 lead in the top of the eighth. Wright´s RBI single in the bottom of the eighth pulled Chesapeake within 7-6, and Ricks (2-for-3, two walks, three RBI) delivered her game-winning, two-run double two batters later.

Melanie Buck (2-for-2, two walks) joined Wright and Ricks with two hits in Game 1.

Kelsi Robinson was the winning pitcher in Game 1, spacing seven hits over 5 2/3 innings with four strikeouts and no walks in relief of starter Jill Piasecki.

Chesapeake head coach Durrie Hayes said the Skipjacks´ comeback was particularly dramatic given Hutchinson´s domination through the first six innings.

"We had one hit going into the seventh inning and we had nine hits in the last 1 1/3 innings," said Hayes. "It was like someone flipped a switch."

The switch stayed flipped in the first inning of Game 2 as Wright and Lowenberger reached on consecutive bunt singles to start the bottom of the first. After a wild pitch, Ricks (2-for-3, two runs, double, RBI) hit a sacrifice fly to score Wright. One out later, English doubled to left to score Lowenberger, and Aubel singled to left to plate English for a 3-0 lead.

English´s second double of the game scored Ricks and Piasecki for a 5-1, third-inning lead. CSM pulled within 5-3 on a two-run error by Lowenberger at second, but Robinson´s fourth-inning homer and fifth-inning, RBI singles by English and pinch hitter Megan Johnson put Chesapeake firmly in control.

Wright pitched a complete-game six-hitter in the nightcap, allowing one earned run while striking out three and walking just one batter.

"Kelsi and Jordan pitched 12 and 2/3 innings and walked one batter," noted Hayes. "That made a big difference."

Notes: Chesapeake (24-8, 15-3), Cecil (25-11, 15-3), and CCBC-Catonsville (23-11, 15-3) finished the regular season tied for the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference state championship. All three teams split with one another and with fourth-place Hagerstown Community College – and all four of those teams will be in this week´s seven-team Region XX championship tournament.

Seeding for the double-elimination regional tournament – which will take place at Cecil in North East, Md. – will not be announced until Monday.

Catonsville swept Harford, 5-4 and 9-1, while Cecil swept Montgomery College/Rockville, 2-1 and 13-0, to earn their shares of the title. Chesapeake´s 1-0 win over Catonsville on Thursday – after Catonsville hung a 7-1 loss on the Skipjacks earlier in the day – gave Chesapeake its share of the title.

The Skipjacks won a share of their first state title since 1981.

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