Dawkins, Robinson boost Skyline

FRONT ROYAL — Carrie Robinson fired a four-hitter and supported herself with a home run Monday night and Skyline teammate Makaela Dawkins knocked two out of the park at Warren County as the Hawks (8-5) hammered the crosstown rival Wildcats, 12-1, in a Conference 28 softball game.

According to Conference 28 rules, each victory is worth seven points — whether the game is against a conference foe or not. Additional points are added if a defeated opponent belongs to a larger classification, but since these Front Royal schools are in the same Group 3A, Skyline will take its seven points and be happy about it.

“I told the girls before this game that I thought this could affect the rest of the season for us, and they played like it,” said Skyline coach Frank Nelson. “In this kind of game, everybody knows each other; they’ve played together. It’s something like playing your cousin.”

Skyline had lost two close games in extra innings to Conference 28 power Central (13-1 heading into Monday’s action) and also dropped a 7-5 loss to Loudoun Valley.

“We waited too long,” said Nelson. “You can’t wait for something to happen. You let a team hang around, and suddenly they get confident. We didn’t want that tonight.”

For Warren County (5-9) the climb becomes more difficult. This was the first of four games to be played by the Wildcats this week, but since Warren County plays no larger schools in the regular season, “We have our work cut out for us,” said coach Justin Stock.

Stock’s troops made it a game on their own diamond, actually leading 1-0 behind starting pitcher Anneslee Cockrell, but the visiting Hawks exploded for three runs in the sixth and nine more in their half of the seventh to salt the game away.

“I would have to say this was my second-best game of the season,” said starting and winning pitcher Robinson, who improved her record to 6-3 while going 2-for-4 at the plate with four runs batted in. “Those two games we played against Central were probably my favorites. We faced Bekah Ansbro in those two games and we battled.”

Unfortunately for the Hawks, they lost both games by a total of three runs and each contest went to eight innings, before Central (13-1 prior to Monday) prevailed.

Prior to Monday, Skyline’s last game came against Loudoun Valley, the Hawks dropped the two-run decision on April 29.

In those games, Nelson lamented the fact that his team left too many Hawks on base, and “blinked,” when instead “they should have stared the opposition down.”

But there was none of that in this game. Led by Robinson and Dawkins (2-for-4, four RBI), whose two home runs were her fourth and fifth of the season, the Hawks plowed ahead.

“Hitting is contagious. Once one girl gets a hit, then the next one wants to get on base, too,” Dawkins said.

Skyline teed off on Cockrell as the game progressed. In the end, the Hawks slammed the three home runs and four doubles.

“I thought Anneslee battled as best she could, but it’s like I told the girls, we left some runners on base early in the game when we should have scored. Skyline’s a good team, so when you have the opportunity, you’ve got to take advantage of it,” Stock said.

Cockrell has become Warren County’s ace as the season has worn on and she showed good control in the first five innings, pitching shutout ball. To that point, she had allowed just three hits. She had to overcome some delivery problems early, as the umpires erased two put-outs because her foot was leaving the pitcher’s rubber too early.

But the complexion of the game changed for good in the sixth inning, and Shock ended up pulling his starter in favor of Emma Wright to close the game out.

Tamara Grayson (3-for-5 with a double and two runs scored) was on base when Dawkins unloaded her first homer of the night in the left-centerfield power alley — a blow of about 250 feet.

Then, as the 2014 Conference 28 player of the year said, things became contagious.

With two outs, the Warren County center fielder dropped ToriJo Brown’s fly ball. Brown came home on a Corinna Colton double.

Ahead 3-1, the Hawks poured it on in the visitors’ half of the seventh.

Robinson, who plans to continue her softball career at Shenandoah University next year, led off the frame by slamming a ball about 250 feet over the left-field fence for a home run. She was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs.

“That really surprised me,” said Robinson. “I’m not usually a power hitter. I just try to make contact.”

Jessica Sims followed by doubling to right. She scored when Grayson singled over the second baseman. An error again in the outfield helped Sims advance, but it mattered little. Dawkins was next up and for the second straight time, and homered over the left field fence — a blow of better than 200 feet. She was good for four RBIs.

“I’ve done it [two homers in one game] before, but this was obviously important because it was against our rival,” the shortstop said.

The Hawks kept it going. Sam Santmyers singled and moved to second when Alexis Grim reached on an error. Brown (2-for-4, a double and two RBIs) ripped a double down the left-field line to score Santmyers and Grim.

Brown moved to third on a wild pitch and came home on a double to center by Robinson, who was up for the second time in the inning.

Sims walked and came home on Grayson’s double to conclude the scoring.

Robinson went the full seven, striking out nine and walking just one while giving up no earned runs.

Warren County, after scoring via a Skyline error in the first, put runners in scoring position in the fifth and the first runner on board in the sixth, but both times Robinson worked her way out of it.

“I don’t know what it is,” Robinson said. “Sometimes I have to put pressure on myself to respond well.”My drop curve was really working tonight. That’s my go-to pitch, and I relied on it.”