Smoot, Strasburg move on to softball semifinals

STRASBURG – – Katie Smoot helped her cause Monday night as she led Strasburg High School’s softball team to an 11-1 innings-shortened victory over George Mason.

The victory for the Rams (8-13) came in the quarterfinals round of the Conference 35 tournament. The Rams were seeded fourth while the Mustangs (0-18) were seeded at No. 5.

The Rams now head for a date with Madison County, a team that has shut out Strasburg twice during the regular season.

Strasburg had taken two easy wins from the visiting Mustangs by a total score of 28-1, so a letdown might have been forthcoming. Rams coach Suzanne Mathias told her team before the game:

“At this point in the season you have to take care of the little things, whether it’s making sure you hit a pitch that’s good for you, rather than have a lazy at-bat, or stepping up to the plate and being competitive.”

Actually, George Mason scored first in the top of the initial frame, as if to underscore Mathias’ words.

Back-to-back doubles by the third and fourth hitters, scored the initial run of the game. After that Smoot and her teammates settled down.

After the 1-0 score, Smoot threw four consecutive innings of scoreless ball. She struck out three Mustangs in the second and though she gave up two more hits, swept the side in what turned out to be George Mason’s final at-bats. A 10-run lead ends most games.

“I threw that one ball kind of flat but after that I pushed up on the momentum on the mound. Giving up that run helped me bear down,” said Smoot.

Said Mathias: “When she got those three strikeouts I think she started throwing harder.”

Smoot struck out six, allowed five hits and one earned run in her tour of duty.

But the senior pitcher also helped herself at the plate.

Strasburg combined for 10 hits, 11 runs (six of them earned) in the five innings.

Smoot got on base three times via error, a double to left and a single. She drove in two runs.

Another strong hitter proved to be junior centerfielder Hannah Alexander.

Hitting in the ninth position, Alexander was 2-for-2 with two RBI. She registered the first triple of her career and stole one base.

Her three-bagger came in the second inning when the Rams scored five runs to go ahead 8-1.

“(Kelly Fischer) threw me an inside pitch and I’ve been working with the coaches on following through,” said Alexander.

Madi Foltz scored two runs and added an RBI, Taylor Bowers scored two runs, drove in two more and, from right field, threw out a Mustang trying to complete a single. Kaitlyn Capps was 2-for-2 with a run scored and an RBI.

The Rams scored three runs in the first, five in the second, two in the fourth and finally the singleton in the fifth.

As seniors, Smoot and her battery-mate Cortney McDonald were honored earlier on senior night; their photos appeared on signs positioned along the center field fence.

Mills and Lang each had a pair of hits for George Mason.

Contact Jim Laise at sports@nvdaily.com