Clarke’s softball team edges Strasburg
BERRYVILLE- Clarke County High School’s girls’ softball team plated a run in the home half of the seventh Thursday night to nip Strasburg High 6-5 in what Rams’ coach Suzanne Mathias called “our best game to date.”
“I thought the team really put it together. I’m pleased with what we did. They kept battling and that’s all I could ask for. We still made mistakes, but it was good to see what this team could do. I’d call it our best game to date,” Mathias said.
Her team left the ballpark with a big cheer after its postgame huddle.
The Rams, 0-4 overall, who lost their first Bull Run District game of the season against the Eagles (2-0, 4-2), faced a daunting task at Charles O. Grubbs Field. The game was moved here Thursday because of reports of heavy rain for today, when the game was originally scheduled.
Winless, Strasburg had lost three games without scoring more than four runs and was on the road at a district rival.
But Clarke Coach Susan Grubbs (daughter of the late community leader for whom the park was rededicated recently), said: “We always seem to have close games with Strasburg over here, I don’t know what it is.”
Starting winning pitcher Megan Hicks (3-2) and Clarke teammate Haley Haun hit their team’s first two home runs of the season.
Those bombs tied it — even though Strasburg led 5-3 at one point — and then Eagle ninth-hitter Kiley Ramey scored the winning run on a single by Whitney Mitchell.
“We’re not usually a long ball hitting team,” said Coach Grubbs. “But we do make contact, and we have capable line drive hitters who can power the ball.”
Hicks clubbed her homer in the bottom of the third to tie the game at 1. Haun got hers in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game at 5. The second blow went over the same centerfield fence as Hicks’.
Hicks’ circuit clout came off Strasburg starter Madi Foltz and Haun’s came at the expense of reliever Kaitlyn Capps (0-1).
Foltz is a sophomore, and Capps, who started at catcher, is a freshman. All-Conference first team member Carey Scott, last year’s hurler and shortstop, has departed via graduation.
Ramey got on base as a result of a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the seventh. She moved around on a single by Dani Bloomingdale and came home on Mitchell’s base hit to left field.
Hicks and Hahn had two hits apiece.
Meanwhile, the defeat marred an excellent all-around game by Strasburg shortstop-catcher Cortney McDonald.
Nicknamed the “Swiss Army Knife” of the Strasburg lineup because of her ability to play multiple spots, McDonald, the senior captain, can do a little of everything. Mathias has said McDonald could play any of nine positions for the Rams.
She started the Clarke game at short and then moved to catcher when it was Capps’ turn to pitch.
McDonald batted four times, scoring two runs. She added a hit and a run batted in.
Her defensive performance was equally impressive. She threw out one Eagle attempting to steal second base. As the backup backstop, she kept the home team’s runners tight to the bases in what turned out to be the final inning. Several times she almost caught them on long leads off the bag.
“Cortney does everything right. She has a high softball IQ and always seems to be in the right place,” said Mathias.
McDonald got on base three times and, on each one, she extended herself for an extra bag, either on an outfielder’s errant throw or an error.
“Every coach I’ve ever had has told me to push the envelope on every throw because you can score a lot easier, the closer you get to home plate,” McDonald said.
Strasburg opened ahead 1-0 after one inning when freshman Taylor Bowers (two hits, three trips, two runs scored) singled, moved around to second on a fielder’s choice, then came home on a Capps’ single.
After Hicks’ solo home run to tie the game at 1 apiece in the bottom of the second, Strasburg went ahead 2-1 in its half of the third.
Bowers again led off the inning with a base hit, then moved to third on a fielder’s choice. She was thrown out at home, attempting to score on Capps’ fielder’s choice.
However, McDonald, on base via another fielder’s choice, scored when Katie Smoot sacrificed her home for the 2-1 lead.
Haun’s single to left with one out put a Clarke County runner on first base in the bottom of the fourth.
She scored when Hicks singled. Several Strasburg errors permitted the Clarke County pitcher to score for a 3-2 advantage.
In the top of the fifth Bowers, who had walked to start the inning, scored on a fielder’s choice, and McDonald, who had singled, came home on a wild throw for the 4-3 advantage.
Strasburg added an insurance run in the top of the sixth. Foltz walked and came around on an error on a ball hit by McDonald.
But Clarke’s Chelsea Trenary scored on Haun’s home run for a 5-5 tie in the sixth and the Eagles capped the game with a tally in what amounted to their final at-bat.
“I’m proud that we came out like that aggressively from the start,” said McDonald. “In the first games, it was almost like we were scared, but (Thursday) was different. We played hard, but we had fun.”
Contact Jim Laise at email@example.com
Eagles 6, Rams 5
Score by innings
Clarke County 010 202 1-6 8 2
Strasburg 101 021 0-5 5 3
WP: Hicks (3-2) and C. Trenary.
LP: Foltz, Capps (5) and Capps, McDonald