Blair softball wins division title

May 1, 2006, midnight | By Jonah Gold | 14 years, 4 months ago

Blazers beat Watkins Mill 9-8 in last inning


Somehow Blair had let the game slip out of its hands. After building up a 5-0 lead against the Watkins Mill Wolverines in the first two innings, it had seemed that Blair was in control. Now it was the bottom of the 7th and Blair was down 8-6. The tides had turned and it seemed that Blair would be left out to dry.

In the final inning, with Watkins Mill cheers emanating from the crowd, Blair found inspiration and the will to win back a game that had almost fallen out of reach. Senior Co-Captain Sarah Rumbaugh was the first up to bat in the 7th. "I told myself `I will not lose this game.' I had to get on base. I felt like I owed it to my team," said Rumbaugh. Rumbaugh was able to provide the spark for Blair leading off with a triple, which was followed by a single by junior Allison Rubin, a triple by junior Michelle Linford and then a game winning single from junior Claire Lieberman. The last hit was welcomed with a standing ovation from the crowd, as Blazer Field erupted into cheers.

When the game ended the Blair players were piled on top of each other in the center of the field, crying tears of joy and relief. Blair had persevered through their toughest game of the season in rousing fashion, in front of their largest crowd of the season, including students, parents, other high school coaches, reporters from The Washington Post and The Gazette; even college scouts were rumored to be attending the game.

All the pressure, all the nervousness, was now being released. Linford after the game said that one of biggest differences between Blair and other teams was that "we have heart." As the lights shown down on a pile of Blazer girls hugging and crying, it was clear Linford had it right.

There were other aspects of the Blair team that helped them to pull out a win. "We have an extremely deep lineup," said Rumbaugh evident in the fact that eight players in the starting lineup had at least one hit. Blair never gave the Watkins Mill team easy outs, often extending at-bats by fouling off pitches, and always running through first base, taking advantage of several early Wolverine errors.

As the game continued however, it was Blair who began to start making mistakes. "We lose our focus, get nervous, and then we make errors," said Linford. Watkins Mill was able to easily get back into the game, narrowing the Blair lead to 5-4 in the 4th inning. Blair's errors continued to mount as did the team's frustration. "Errors build on each other. It's like an avalanche," said junior Anna Szapiro.

Rubin commented after the game, "Only we can beat ourselves." The shirts that the team had been wearing for the last week, with the simple statement of "One Opponent" seemed to have been making an ill-advised prophecy as Blair invited their opponent back into the match.

Lieberman thought that Watkins Mill simply had too much talent to be easily beaten. "We need to learn how to bury teams, put them away, but they were a good team and wouldn't let us," said Lieberman. Watkins Mill always seemed able to find another clutch hit, taking the lead in 5th inning, reversing a 6-5 deficit into a 8-6 advantage.

Still Blair prevailed, showing why they are undefeated, now 11-0, why they are Division Champions, and why their spirits are as high as ever. After the game Head Coach Louis Hoelman said, "That was one of the best games I have ever seen." I could not agree more.

Blair's next game is tomorrow away versus Sherwood at 5:15 p.m.

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