Silver Chips Online

Wootton sneaks by softball

Strong Blazer defense falls just short in close game

By Julia Wynn, Online Connections and Food Editor
April 18, 2009
BLAZER FIELD, April 17 -

The Wootton Patriots defeated Blair's varsity softball team 3-2 Friday night, a down-to-the-wire battle plagued by passive Blazer hitting. The cheering crowd was especially enthusiastic, but the team's energy reached optimum level too late in the game, according to sophomore shortstop Blake Morgan-Gamber. The Blazers secured spots on bases, but consistently stranded them.

In the last inning, Blair's defense went three-and-out, taking down the batters in successive order and obliterating any chance of Wootton augmenting their narrow lead. Trying to rally, the Blazers landed two players on bases but cut the inning short without scoring on strikeouts.

The main downfall of Blazer play was their inability to consistently connect with the ball. Each inning found Blazers on base, but lacking the strong hits to bank a run. Head coach Louis Hoelman cited this offensive weakness as the deciding factor of the game. "I'm disappointed in our hitting," he said. "We got enough people on base to win the game…and we didn't drive them in."

Senior co-captain Xenia Oroxom attributes the team's inadequate batting to the hiatus in practices over break and the Wootton pitcher's penchant for throwing balls with a twist. "I think the pitcher's style threw us off a little," she stated.

Consequently, a lull in runs ended the game for Blair, as the team's two scores both came in the fourth inning. Almost halfway through the inning, freshmen Samantha Schweickhardt's clean hit past second base brought senior co-captain and first baseman Rachel Nicholson home in a close play at the plate. Two batters after Patriot outfielders fumbled her powerful leftfield hit, Oroxom stole home on a foul ball, tying the score at that point in the game.

The fourth inning also exhibited Blair's cohesive defense, fielding balls with speed and accuracy. The most impressive play came after the first out of the inning when Morgan-Gamber stopped a groundball between second and third base and lobbed it to Nicholson at first for the out. Nicholson then made the heads-up play by quickly throwing the ball to third baseman junior Chloe Sheridan, who caught it to tag the runner approaching third. "We had some solid plays," Morgan-Gamber confirmed.

Morgan-Gamber grounded another successful play at the beginning of the same inning, fielding a ball and driving it home to prevent a Patriot run. "She played well defensively," Hoelman said.

Consistently pitching on-target was also one of the Blazers' key defensive tools. Schweickhardt threw the last two innings, following starter sophomore Eve Brown who facilitated several strikeouts. Both pitchers dealt well with the pressure of a team occupying bases but unable to score runs, according to Hoelman.

Blazer defense was not entirely without mishaps, however. Occasional incomplete passes among fielders allowed Wootton players to advance on the bases. "We lacked communication in some innings," Morgan-Gamber said. "Our heads weren't in it."

The overall solid Wootton performance made a Blair victory hard to come by. "Both teams played very well," Hoelman stated, emphasizing the importance of winning future close games like this as the softball playoffs approach. "The team wants it badly. I feel we're getting better…and we're going to start winning these games."

The Lady Blazers play their next home game April 23 against Walter Johnson at 7 p.m.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/9125