It took six-and-a-half innings, two days, and two fields but the Northwest Girls Softball team defeated the Blair Blazers 14-11 to win the 2017 4A West Regional Championship and advance to the Final Four in the Maryland State Softball Tournament.
The game started on a hot and humid Friday afternoon, May 19. After a first inning where both teams scored one run, the Lady Jags took an early lead exploding for six runs in the second inning. Freshman Kayla Qassis got the inning started with a single to left field. She scored two batters later when fellow freshman Amber Yuille ripped a double to deep left. Northwest’s Megan Ridenour walked and stole second. She scored on senior Emily Wiley’s single to down the third base line. Wiley stole her way around the bases to third. Junior Chloe Hickman walked, and both Wiley and Hickman came home on two passed ball from Blair’s pitcher, sophomore Courtney Wyche. Northwest senior Alexa Bowen smashed a home run to cap the Lady Jags scoring in the second inning at six runs. Northwest led 7-1.
Blair would score three runs in the top of the third inning to cut the lead to 7-4. Wyche, who homered in the first inning, would go on strike out 10 Northwest batters over the course of the six inning game. Wyche would stymie the Lady Jags in the third inning, allowing just one hit and walking none in the inning.
Through four innings freshman pitcher, Amber Yuille struck out five, walked two, and hit one batter while allowing nine runs.
Blair would take an 8-7 lead, scoring four runs in the top of the fourth, but the Jags would answer to two more to retake the lead 10-9 in the bottom of the inning.
In the top of fifth, Northwest would make a pitching change and replace Yuille with sophomore Alex Karamihas. The Blazers would get a pair of singles from senior Allison MacKenzie and sophomore Cassia Williams-Rogers in the fifth inning, before a two-RBI double by junior Maddie Hutchins gave Blair the lead. One batter later Hutchins would score when senior Cami Vanderwolf smashed a double to centerfield to extend the lead to 11-9.
And the rains came and dumped a lot of water on the field forcing play to stop. The thunderstorm which halted play made the field unplayable, and the game was continued at 4:00 pm on Saturday, May 20, but the remainder of the game would be played at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville.
Once the game resumed in the bottom of the fifth inning, Lady Jags regained a one-run lead, as Ridenour worked a walk, and scored double by junior Megan Sheelor. Sheelor would score on a single by junior Karlie Stanford. Two batters later Stanford come home and give the Lady Jags the lead on another passed ball from Wyche. The Lady Jags 12-11 at the end of the fifth inning.
Northwest Head Coach Mike Horton would send Yuille out to pitch again in the top of the sixth inning, after the break from the rains. She wouldn’t give up another hit, striking out three Blazers including the third out of the top of the seventh inning. The Blazers could only get two more runners on base, as MacKenzie reached on an error in the sixth, and the Jags gave an intentional walk to Wyche to start the seventh inning.
The Jags would score two unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. The two freshman Qassis and Yuille would get on base. Qassis walked, and Yuille knocked a base hit. They would score on two passed balls from Wyche to give the Lady Jags a 14-11 lead.
Blair couldn’t get anything going in the top of the seventh. After the intentional pass to Wyche, the nest two batters hit ground-outs. With two outs Yuille a got the last Blair batter to strike out by to end the game and earn a trip to the Maryland State Semi-Finals.
Just like their counterparts on the baseball team, the 17-2 Lady Jags will play 18-1 Eleanor Roosevelt on Tuesday at 7:00 pm at Bachman Park in Glen Burnie. Eleanor Roosevelt is coming off a 10-0 shutout of High Point on Tuesday. Previously, Roosevelt beat Bowie by a score of 9-3 and Wise by a 14-4 margin. If they win, the Lady Jags will face either 20-3 Arundel High School or longtime nemesis, the 18-1, Sherwood Warriors in the Maryland State Championship game.
Top: The 2017 4A West Regional Champion Northwest Lady Jaguars.
Next: Freshman pitcher Amber Yuille did double duty, pitching four innings on Friday, and two innings on Saturday.
Next: Northwest senior centerfielder Alexis Mack, attempts to rob a home run in the first inning. She lost the ball crashing through the fence.
Next: Freshman first base player Kayla Qassis (13) with the catch to get Cassia Williams-Rogers.
Next: Junior Chloe Hickman (1) slides into home plate. She scored three times in the game.
Next: Sophomore Alex Karamihas pitched the fifth inning.
Next: The champs will face Eleanor Roosevelt on Tuesday in the State Semi-Finals.
Photo by Mark Poetker for Germantown Pulse.