The game that wouldn’t end did
St. Mary’s Ryken loses WCAC softball final in 19 innings to O’Connell; Aughinbaugh struck out 24 in defeat
KENSINGTON — The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference softball championship game was so intense and dramatic that it took 19 innings and roughly 25 hours to decide.
One day after St. Mary’s Ryken senior ace Madison Aughinbaugh and Bishop O’Connell (Va.) ace Kathryn Sandercock battled to a 2-2 draw through 18 innings, combining for 40 strikeouts on 480 pitches, Aughinbaugh did not go to the circle when the game was resumed at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Academy of the Holy Cross.
Aughinbaugh had fanned 24 batters while throwing strikes on 187 of 272 pitches on Tuesday, but the Fordham University recruit traded positions with junior first baseman Katie Prebble on Wednesday.
Tuesday, Prebble had been one of the primary reasons the game continued. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and her team trailing 1-0, Prebble delivered a single down the right-field line that scored Aughinbaugh from second base to tie the game.
O’Connell regained the lead in the 11th, but Ryken again got the equalizer on the bottom half of the inning. Neither team scored again when darkness approached and the umpires suspended the conclusion of the title game after 18 innings with the game tied at 2.
There was little drama in the 19th on Wednesday. Prebble walked the first three O’Connell batters on five pitches each, but senior first baseman Olivia Giaquinto did not wait that long to take her first swing. With the bases loaded and none out, Giaquinto sent a 1-ball, 1-strike Prebble pitch over the fence in left-center field for a grand slam that gave the Virginia squad a 6-2 lead. Two batters later, Kayla Turner delivered a solo home run to straightaway center for the game’s final run.
“I was really a bundle of nerves when I went out to the circle,” said Prebble, who had played first base primarily all season and had pitched in only three prior contests. “I was really nervous. I never really felt calm, but this was an amazing season with a great team. I have a very busy travel softball schedule this summer with Wagners MG Gold. I have a tournament in Oklahoma, another one in Chicago and another one in Georgia. I will basically be gone the entire month of July.”
While Aughinbaugh — selected as the conference’s player of the year for the second straight season — played first base on Wednesday, O’Connell head coach Tommy Orndorff sent Sandercock back to the circle on Wednesday less than 24 hours after she had thrown 208 pitches in her 18-inning duel with the Ryken ace. Sandercock promptly retired the side in order in the bottom of the 19th on Wednesday on just 10 pitches, coincidentally getting Aughinbaugh to ground out to third base to end the contest.
“I’ve had pitchers throw as many as four games in one day,” Orndorff said. “In my experience with this team and the Shamrocks, the time most pitchers get hurt is when they go into the outfield and throw overhand trying to stay loose. Softball pitchers have such a natural motion it doesn’t hurt them. Kathryn pitched a great game yesterday and so did Maddie, but I didn’t have any doubts about sending Kathryn back out there today.”
Prebble took the loss after allowing five runs on six walks and two hits in two-thirds of an inning, then reliever Cassie Aud fanned Leah Hammes with the bases loaded.
Aughinbaugh departed the field Tuesday evening with an ice pack on her right shoulder and ample tears in her eyes. In what would be her final outing for the Leonardtown private school, she limited O’Connell to two runs, one earned, on 12 hits and four walks while fanning 24 batters.
“I’ve never had to pitch that many innings before,” Aughinbaugh said on Tuesday before heading home with her parents. “That was definitely the longest game of my life, but it was a great battle, physically and mentally. You had to stay focused on every pitch. That was such a great game to be a part of.”
Sandercock, who allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits while fanning 16 Ryken batters after throwing strikes on 149 of 208 pitches on Tuesday as she and Aughinbaugh took shutouts into extra innings.
O’Connell pushed a run across in the top of the ninth on a one-out walk to Gianquinto and consecu- tive singles from Sandercock and Kyla Turner and an error by Ryken center fielder Moriah Hunter that allowed Giaquinto to score the game’s first run.
Ryken got the equalizer in the bottom of the ninth. Aughinbaugh beat out an infield single with one out, then Prebble plated her with a clean single down the right-field line. Emma Thompson then worked Sandercock for a walk, but Lindsey Keller popped up to third to end the threat.
O’Connell regained the lead in the top of the 11th. Gianquinto led off with a bloop single to right, then Sandercock worked her counterpart for a walk and both runners advanced on a wild pitch. With one out, Elizabeth Hoeymans dropped down a squeeze bunt that Aughinbaugh mishandled, enabling Giaquinto to score her second run.
After Aughinbaugh escaped the top of the 11th without further damage, Ryken again produced the equalizer. Hunter beat out an infield single, went to second on a groundout by Aughinbaugh then scored when O’Connell third baseman Hammes bounced her throw past first allowing Jaelyn Gorham to reach safely. Gorham went to third on another grounder but was stranded there when Thompson grounded out.
In the bottom of he 12th, Ryken second baseman Lindsey Keller greeted Sandercock by sending the first pitch of the frame deep to center. O’Connell center fielder Julia Jones chased down the high fly ball, caught it then crashed through the temporary fence for the game’s longest out.
Six innings later, in the bottom of the 18th, the final inning played on Tuesday, Keller again greeted Sandercock by sending the first pitch deep to right-center. But again Jones proved to be her nemesis, tracking down the long fly ball and catching it several strides before reaching the temporary fence.
“I was hoping that it was going out,” Keller said of her shot in the 12th. “I saw her going back and I was just hoping that I had gotten enough of it. But she made a great play on the ball. I was hoping that last one was going out, but she caught it again.”
St. Mary’s Ryken junior first baseman Katie Prebble stands at second base and signals home to a teammate on Tuesday in the WCAC championship game versus O’Connell. Prebble singled home pitcher Madison Aughinbaugh with the tying run but was stranded at second as the teams played to a 2-2 draw through 18 innings before returning on Wednesday. The Knights would lose in 19, 7-2.