Last year, there was shock and despair. This year, there was joy and hope as the Lady Jags left the softball field in Germantown after beating the Wootton Lady Patriots 14-0 in four and a half innings.
The win, on Monday, May 15, allows Northwest to advance in the 4A West playoffs but also avenges last year’s 5-4 defeat in the second round of the playoffs at the hands of Wootton.
“It is definitely a huge win,” said Northwest senior outfielder Emily Wiley. “Leading up to this game we put a lot of effort into not underestimating this team and making sure that we took care of the little things during the game and made every play because we did not want to lose to this team again. That did not feel good last year.”
The win marks the second 14-0 victory for Northwest this postseason. The Lady Jags entered the postseason with a record of 13-2 and defeated 3-13 Kennedy 14-0 on Friday, May 12. The Jags scored all 14 runs in the first inning of that game and never looked back.
While the result was the same, Monday’s game was a little bit tougher. Wootton ended the regular season 12-4 and came into the game off a 14-0 victory over Einstein in the first round of the playoffs.
The Jags got things started early scoring four runs in the first inning, after freshman pitcher Amber Yuille, mowed down the first three Wootton batters in order. She got the first to fly out and struck out the next two. Yuille would strike out six Patriots, while the Jags defense would come through to get every other batter out. Yuille would continue to be perfect until giving up a base hit to Hana Johnston in the top of the fifth inning.
Yuille would get run support from senior catcher Alexa Bowen who would get on base during all four at-bats and score all four times. Junior shortstop Karlie Stanford reached base and scored in her first three at-bats. In all the Jags would have 11 hits in four innings at the plate.
“Everything worked today,” said Northwest Head Coach Mike Horton. “We were on fire all the way through. Amber threw a perfect game through four innings and allowed one hit in the fifth inning. She did very well early on. She shut them down in the first inning, and we took over. We hit the ball and scored four runs in the first inning, and you could see the body language of Wootton shut down. The frustration set in and it propelled us all the way through. This was a total team win. The girls were high energy, and they were feeding off each other. This Wootton team is a good team, but we came to play today.”
The Jags scored five runs in the second inning, four more in the third inning, and one more in the top of the fourth inning. While there was a slight scare when Wootton’s leadoff hitter reached first base in the bottom of the fifth, Yuille buckled down and got the next batter to ground out to second base. The game ended with a double-play. The runner on second left the base early in an attempt to steal, and the batter hit a fly ball to center field which was caught by senior Alexis Mack to end the game.
The memories of last year’s earlier than expected post-season exit weighed heavy on the Lady Jags coming into this game. “Last year, we were kind of lackadaisical coming into that game with Wootton, and we had some seniors coming back to watch this game, and it was really important for us to win this game,” said senior infielder Chloe Hickman. She said that alumni Selin Bolayir and Kat McUtcheon came back from college to watch the game. “They gave us a little pep-talk before the game saying how much this means to them. We just wanted to leave it all on the field.”
The Lady Jags must now await the winner of the match-up between Clarksburg and top-seeded Quince Orchard being played Tuesday in Gaithersburg. The regional semi-finals will be played on Wednesday, May 19.
In other softball news, the Lady Screamin’ Eagles of Seneca Valley defeated Poolesville 9-6 on Monday to advance to the second round, where they will travel to face top-seeded Manchester Valley on Tuesday. Manchester Valley finished the regular season 12-3.
Caption: Joy and hope on the faces of the victorious Lady Jags team after their 14-0 victory over Wootton in Germantown on Monday afternoon.
Photo by Germantown Pulse.