Robinson walkoff homer put Cambridge in final
CAMBRIDGE — Cambridge’s Chyenne Robinson wasn’t exactly optimistic when she came to the plate with the score tied 10-10 in the bottom of the seventh on Thursday, June 30.
“I was kind of expecting to strike out,” Robinson said. “I was just hoping to get anything, really, that I could hit, maybe get on base.”
Robinson got more than that, as she hit a first-pitch, belt-high fastball around the left-field pole for a walk-off home run that gave Cambridge an 11-10 victory over Talbot in the District 6 Senior League softball tournament.
Robinson’s first career home run eliminated Talbot and advanced Cambridge to championship against Tri-City. Cambridge fell to Tri-City 22-10 on Friday, July 1.
“Chyenne’s a great player,” Cambridge manager Kim Whitten said. “I’ve had her for several years now. I picked her up for juniors when she was 12.”
Robinson, who’s just 14, went 4 for 5 in the loss-bracket final. Senior league softball normally is for players aged 15-16, but Little League rules allow players to participate at their age level or one bracket higher. She played junior league, 1314 bracket, at 12.
“Chyenne’s pretty much played a level above her age almost every year I’ve had her,” Whitten said. “And when she hit that ball, I was just kinda leaning, you know, hoping it would stay fair.”
Robinson’s blast ended a roller-coaster night which saw Cambridge fall behind early, take the lead, lose it, regain it, and then lose it again in the top of the seventh.
Talbot, which dressed 18 players during the regular season, but was whittled down to 13 for the playoffs, finished 9-5 overall.
Talbot opened with a three-run first. Julia Bradley hit a leadoff double. An error on Jocelyn Somers’s sacrifice bunt made it 1-0. Danielle Mills doubled Somers home, and an error a moment later scored Mills.
“I didn’t get too worried after [the top of the first],” Whitten said. “I knew we could hit. We just had to try to go out there and make something happen.”
Riley Keener got things going in the home half of the first, her Texas-leaguer single to left sparking a four-run rally. Robinson, Sabrina McKelvey, and Rebecca Lowe each notched RBIs in the first.
Talbot came back in the top of the third, though. Somers led off with a walk, and stole second. Mills singled to score her and tie the game. Caroline Lee and Sincere Taylor followed with back-to-back RBI doubles, and Naomi Woolford’s RBI hit capped the four-run rally, which made it 7-4, Talbot.
Talbot added a run in the top of the fourth, Mills getting a one-out single and eventually scoring on a passed ball. Cambridge pulled to within 8-5 in the bottom of that inning on Robinson’s double that scored Keener.
Coming into the bottom of the sixth, Cambridge was having trouble staying positive, Robinson recalled. “It’s pretty hard because everybody gets down. Everybody misses catches, throws, everything, and you get down on yourself, especially if you’re behind like we were,” she said, “but our coaches help us to stay together and get back up.”
Leading off the home sixth, Robinson singled. One out later, Adrienne Kane reached on an error at third. Shayla Collins, who had relieved Brooke Windsor on the mound in the fourth inning, slapped a single to right, scoring Chyenne Robinson to make it 8-6. Lauren Gootee’s bunt single, an Ariah Matos RBI ground out, brought in two more runs, tying the game.
Windsor and Keener continued the rally with RBI singles for a 10-8 Cambridge lead.
“I was proud of the fact the girls didn’t just give up in the seventh,” Talbot manager Kelley Mills said. “It’s been such a pleasure, such an experience, coaching these girls this year.
“Just as Cambridge has girls on their team that are 14, we’ve got a lot of girls who aren’t league-age 15 yet on this one,” Kelley Mills said. “We’re a really young group, and for them to come out hitting, well, we told the bottom of the lineup, coming into the seventh, ‘Hey, you’ve not hit. You’ve got to get it done for us now.’ And they did.”
Six-hole hitter Ja’Mesha Ross began Talbot’s lastchance rally with a slapsingle to right-center field. One out later, Kate Lenkiwiecz appeared to have grounded out.
But umpires conferred and ruled Cambridge first baseman Lowe had dropped the ball as it came in, leaving everyone safe. Talbot’s Julie Warner grounded out to second, scoring Ross to make it 10-9.
Lauren Trower’s infield single kept Talbot’s inning alive. A passed ball as Somers batted brought in Lienkiwiecz with the tying run.
“It was quite a game,” Kelley Mills said. “Quite a game to be a part of. They just got the last hit.”
It came quickly. Robinson came to the plate, and got “exactly what I wanted — one right here,” she said, holding one hand out level, a few inches below the letters on her jersey. “I knew when I hit it I had hit it pretty good. I didn’t know if it was gone, but I figured I could get a double, or something, out of it.”
The ball, a frozen rope, sailed in a high arc down the left field line. Crossing the fence a foot or so fair, the shot cleared the pole, which is 182 feet from the plate, landing in a ditch at the edge of the woods behind the field, instantly ending the game.
“It’s my first home run of any kind, ever,” Robinson said. “I’d never hit one before.”
“This is the kind of game we kind of expected,” Whitten said. “We split with them during the year. One game, when we played at their field, they won in the bottom of the seventh, and when they played us here one of our games, we won in the bottom of the seventh.”
“These girls have had such a great time, it’s a shame that it’s over now,” Kelley Mills said. “They’ve learned, they’ve grown so much, not just as ball players, but as friends . ... It’s been a great thing to see them as the season has gone on grow so much closer.”
Notes: Cambridge’s Abby Robinson had a bunt single and scored a run. Collins got the win in relief, allowing three hits, three walks, an earned run and striking out seven over four innings . ... Talbot’s Caroline Lenkiwiecz took the loss, fanning six in a complete-game effort. Chyenne Robinson had two singles, a double, and a homer, missing the cycle by a triple . ... Talbot’s Danielle Mills reached base in all four plate appearances, with a double, two singles, and a walk, as well as three runs. Woolford had two hits and a stolen base . ... Brooke Windsor was 3 for 4.
Cambridge’s Sabrina McKelvey makes the catch at short against Tri-City Friday, July 1.
Cambridge’s Chyenne Robinson points over the fence where she hit her walkoff home run Thursday, June 30, to beat Talbot 11-10.