CSM softball knocks off Cecil
Sturgill wins two of three games as Hawks move on in Region XX tournament
One year after finishing well under .500 and failing to earn a berth in the Region XX tournament, the College of Southern Maryland softball team earned a berth in the region final four by taking two of three games against Cecil Community College in the tournament’s opening round Saturday and Tuesday.
CSM (22-18 overall) will now head to Hagerstown for a noon outing on Friday against top-seeded Chesapeake College. The Hawks advanced by taking two of three contests with Cecil, although they needed to win the final two games to emerge victorious. CSM ace Lori Sturgill, a McDonough High School graduate from Waldorf, went 2-1 in the three contests against Cecil ace Megan Thompson, who opened the series with a gem.
“It was three good games between two good teams,” CSM head coach Jim Cleary said. “Lori pitched well all three games, but so did their girl. Really, it just came down to one or two plays that went our way. We’re one of only four teams left going to Hagerstown and anything can happen. Any one of the four could win it.”
Saturday, Cecil won the opening game 2-0 as Thompson limited the Hawks to three hits in seven shutout innings, while Sturgill took the loss despite pitching well. Cecil scored the first two runs of the next game, but CSM responded with the last five runs for a 5-2 victory. Kaitlyn Cave, a La Plata High School graduate from Charlotte Hall and Corrine Fernald, a Chopticon High School graduate from Mechanicsville, each had two hits and drove in a run, while Alexis Clark, a Lackey High School graduate from Bryans Road, drove in two runs and Amber Whelan, a Thomas Stone High School graduate from Waldorf, had an RBI single.
Then in the rubber match between Sturgill and Thompson on Tuesday, Cecil scored the first run, but the Hawks responded with a pivotal and decisive five-run fourth. With Sturgill on third and Alison McLane, a Chopticon High School graduate from Mechanicsville on first base, Cleary called for Whelan to lay down a suicide squeeze bunt. The tactic caught Cecil by surprise and Whelan reached on a bunt single that enabled Sturgill to score.
Alexsia Banks and Cave added further damage with run-scoring singles later in the frame and the Hawks eventually plated five unearned runs against Thompson to forge a 5-1 lead. Cecil scored a run in the fifth and another in the sixth, but after a prolonged weather delay the game was halted with CSM heading to bat in the bottom of the sixth.
“It was kind of a shame that we didn’t get the whole game in,” Cleary said. “I know their girls probably wanted to finish. For some of them it was their last game. We stopped the game for lightning and then we had more lightning later and then the skies just opened up. By then there was just too much water on the field to make it playable before it got dark.”
CSM will also head to the region tournament final four opener against Chesapeake with a healthy Sturgill, who was not available for the previous doubleheader when the Hawks were swept 4-0 and 20-0. Sturgill missed eight games at one stretch after suffering a minor head injury during the team’s Myrtle Beach, S.C., trip that required the freshman hurler to go through the NCAA’s concussion protocol although she was never actually diagnosed with a concussion.
Four previous Sturgill outings were superb. She threw a perfect game in a 5-0 win over Harford on March 16 and later threw a no-hitter in the regular season finale against Cecil April 20. Sturgill also threw one-hitters against both Allegany on March 12 and Anne Arundel and March 18. In her absence against Cecil, CSM used three pitchers in each game as Whelan, the Hawks’ No. 2 hurler, started both games.