As celebrations go, this one was kind of low key.
“They gave a little cheer and went on and clapped and then it was like . . . ‘Let’s go eat.’ ” Chesapeake College head coach Durrie Hayes said Wednesday afternoon after his women’s softball squad clinched the program’s first undisputed state championship in 35 years by sweeping Frederick Community College, 2-1 and 5-2.
While the celebration was muted, the accomplishment was certainly impressive.
Brittney Platt drove in both runs and winning pitcher Rachael Milligan (14-1) threw a three-hitter in the opener. The Skipjacks (27-4 overall, 14-0 conference) then used a four-run seventh to wipe out a 2-1 deficit in the nightcap and escaped from a bases-loaded jam in the home seventh to lock up the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference crown.“Of course we’re excited about the conference title but we still have a lot of work to do,” said Milligan, who is 14-0 this season as a starter.
“We’re happy with it. We haven’t done it in, what, 35 years?” said Hayes, referring to the program’s last undisputed state softball crown in 1981. “And we’re still undefeated in the conference.”
That undefeated mark looked to be in jeopardy with Frederick holding a 2-1 lead heading to the seventh inning of the nightcap. Chesapeake, however, tied the game on Savannah Miller’s leadoff homer.
Kristen Catlin’s perfect, two-out bunt single down the third-base line kept the inning alive. After Cat Ramagnano walked, Kristina Shank fisted a blooper down the first-base line.
Hayes – as aggressive a third-base coach as you’re likely to see – sent Catlin home from second base on the blooper by Shank (2-for-3, double, RBI) with Ramagnano taking third and Shank moving to second on a ball that didn’t get out of the infield. Abby Nelson (2-for-4, three RBI) then delivered a two-run single that made it 5-2.
“The first big hit was Savannah’s home run, but Kristen then dropped a perfect bunt down the third-baseline,” said Hayes. “It didn’t even draw a throw.”
Reliever Chloe Day sandwiched a pair of outs around two singles in the home seventh, bringing heavy-hitting Amanda Davis to the plate. Davis – whose first-game homer made a big impression on Hayes – was then walked even though she represented the tying run.
“Oh, no. I didn’t hesitate – not for one-tenth of a second,” Hayes said of his decision to intentionally walk Davis. “And the whole team knew what I was going to do. In fact, [catcher] Kristen Catlin said, ‘You are gonna walk her, aren’t you?’
Day made Hayes look like a genius, inducing Ashley Naill into a title-clinching pop-up. Ironically, it was Naill’s two-run single that gave Frederick a 2-1 lead.
“You have to recognize when the game starts who you’re not going to let beat you,” said Hayes, who obviously wasn’t going to be beaten by Davis.Chesapeake’s Kara Wood pitched the first five innings of Game 2, allowing two runs on five hits with one walk and five strikeouts. Day, who earned the victory, pitched the final two innings while yielding two hits and one walk with two strikeouts.
In the opener, Milligan yielded one earned run on three hits with 10 strikeouts and two walks, only of them intentional. Platt sandwiched a first-inning, RBI groundout and a run-scoring single in the fifth around a game-tying, fourth-inning homer by Davis.
"When she’s got control like that and locating her pitches, she’s tough,” Hayes said of Milligan. “She got a ball up to the Davis girl and she just flicked it to right field.”
Ramagnano, Platt and Miller each went 2-for-4 in the opener as Faith Warner spaced nine hits on the mound for Frederick.
“We weren’t overly thrilled with how we hit today, but you’ve got to give some credit to their pitchers,” said Hayes.
Chesapeake hosts Potomac State College of West Virginia University in a rematch of last year’s epic NJCAA Division II Region XX title tilt Friday in a 3 p.m. doubleheader.
“Whoever ends up being the one seed, ends up with a bye, isn’t at risk in the opening round and is the home team throughout the region,” Hayes said of the likely rewards for success against Potomac State. “We want to see how we stack up with Pot State. They’re the ones that beat us last year and kept us out of the World Series. . . . It’s big in some respects. The biggest thing is it’s probably going to determine the top seed in the region.”
Milligan indicated this year’s Skipjacks may be better positioned to win a region crown thanks to team cohesiveness.
“I can tell there is a big difference from last year to this year,” said Milligan. “We just have outstanding team chemistry. We are definitely always together on and off the field.”
Notes: Chesapeake is 11th in this week’s NJCAA Division II national poll as the Skipjacks moved up three spots from last week.