CSM soft­ball knocks off Cecil

Sturgill wins two of three games as Hawks move on in Re­gion XX tour­na­ment

Maryland Independent - - Sports B - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com Twit­ter: tblack­somds1

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.

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