Rolling into the finals
Ryken softball defeats McNamara in WCAC semis
KENSINGTON — On a day when their contest began roughly 20 minutes late and their offensive prowess took several innings to take shape, the St. Mary’s Ryken High School softball team shook off the slow start to defeat Bishop McNamara of Prince George’s County 9-1 in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference semifinals at Academy of the Holy Cross on Monday.
After both teams watched O’Connell (Va.) rally from a 1-0 deficit to defeat Prince George’s County’s Elizabeth Seton 2-1 by scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning of the first WCAC semifinal at Holy Cross on Monday, The championship game was scheduled to be played Tuesday at Holy Cross.
Ryken (21-1 overall) spotted McNamara a 1-0 lead thanks to three plays that were truly uncharacteristic for the Knights.
McNamara leadoff batter Raina Cooper reached on an error by Ryken third baseman Ashley Ramsey then was awarded second base when Knights ace hurler Madison Aughinbaugh was called for an illegal pitch. Aughinbaugh, Knights head coach Jim Sewell and the umpires conferred in the circle for two minutes to clarify the ruling and the Knights hurler would not get called for another infraction.
With McNamara senior catcher Danielle Pickering at the plate, Cooper stole third and Ryken catcher Mackenzie Owens’ throw sailed into left field, enabling Cooper to score the game’s first run. Aughinbaugh would quickly settle down and the Knights ace did not allow another run over the last six innings and did not yield her first hit until the sixth.
Ryken failed to score in the bottom of the first despite having runners on second and third with one out, but Owens atoned for her first-inning miscue in the bottom of the second. On a 3-ball, 2-strike pitch from McNamara senior ace Laurie Irons, Owens sent an inside pitch over the fence in left field for a solo home run that tied the contest.
“I had two strikes on me and I was just looking for a pitch that I could hit somewhere,” Owens said. “I didn’t think it was going out when I hit it. I ran to first as fast as I could and I didn’t realize it was gone until I got to second base. It was a slow start for all of us with the calls in the first inning, but Madison settled down and pitched a great game.”
Ryken took the lead for good in the bottom of the third when Jaelyn Gorham walked, stole second and scored on a one-out single by shortstop Emma Thompson. The Knights then broke the game open in the fourth by scoring three times on four hits. Misty Bell, Aughinbaugh, Gorham and Katie Prebble all singled and Prebble drove in two runs with her base hit to left.
“It really did seem like the game was going slow until the fourth inning,” Prebble said. “Then we all started to swing the bats better the last couple of innings. Once we got the bats going, we were fine.”
Ryken added four more runs in the sixth on consecutive one-out singles from Moriah Hunter, Aughinbaugh, Gorham and Prebble, with the Knights first baseman again driving in two runs with a base hit into right. Thompson reached on an error that enabled Gorham and Prebble to score the last two runs. Lindsey Keller singled, but Owens and Ramsey both fanned with two runners aboard.
Aughinbaugh took a no-hitter into the sixth and fanned the first batter of the inning. Cooper then beat out a bunt single and Pickering had a clean single to center and took second when Cooper reached third. With runners on second and third, Taylor Wilson hit a sharp grounder to Thompson, who threw home to Owens to get the sliding Cooper for the second out.
Irons singled to load the bases, but Aughinbaugh fanned Jamie Worthen to end the threat and then struck out the side in the seventh. The Knights ace allowed one unearned run on three hits, no walks and one hit batter and fanned 10 Mustangs while throwing strikes on 66 of 92 pitches on Monday.
“We hung in there for a while,” McNamara assistant coach Paul O’Brien said. “It was 3-1 after three, but they had that big fourth inning. When these girls don’t realize who they’re facing, they’re really good. But against teams like Ryken they allow it to get to them mentally.”
St. Mary’s Ryken senior ace Madison Aughinbaugh fires a screwball toward homeplate on Monday afternoon in the WCAC semifinals against McNamara at Holy Cross. Aughinbaugh limited the Mustangs to one unearned run on three hits and fanned 10 as the Knights coasted to a 9-1 victory.