O’Con­nell beats St. Mary’s Ryken to win sec­ond straight WCAC soft­ball ti­tle.


The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY DAN ROTH dan.roth@wash­post.com

It didn’t take long for O’Con­nell pitcher Kathryn San­der­cock to real­ize she and catcher Meadow Sa­cadura would make a good team. Sa­cadura, a fresh­man, was a bit ner­vous to catch the hardthrow­ing ju­nior and her va­ri­ety of pitches at first, ac­cord­ing to Coach Tommy Orn­dorff, but that feel­ing quickly dis­si­pated.

Dur­ing Satur­day’s Washington Catholic Ath­letic Con­fer­ence ti­tle game, the two were in lock-step against St. Mary’s Ryken as Sa­cadura called the pitches and San­der­cock fired them through the cold driz­zle and bit­ing wind, strik­ing out 18 and walk­ing none as No. 2 O’Con­nell rolled to a 9-0 win to re­peat as cham­pi­ons at Holy Cross in Kens­ing­ton.

“It means a lot to us,” San­der­cock said of bring­ing home the cham­pi­onship tro­phy, “es­pe­cially those of us who have been here three years or more. We know what it feels like to lose, and we know what it feels like to win. We really wanted this.”

The game, a re­match of last year’s 19-in­ning marathon, was score­less into the fourth. Ryken sopho­more pitcher Cassie Aud had done well to keep the ball on the ground to that point, but O’Con­nell’s con­fi­dence didn’t wa­ver.

“I knew we were go­ing to win it,” said San­der­cock, who gave up just two hits. “We were mak­ing con­tact since the first in­ning. We just needed to find some gaps.”

With two outs and two on, No. 6 hit­ter El­iz­a­beth Hoey­mans found a gap up the mid­dle to bring home a run. Sa­cadura then stepped in and blasted a pitch high in the zone over the fence in left cen­ter, plat­ing three more as O’Con­nell (24-0) broke the game open. It was Sa­cadura’s first home run, and it came on the big­gest stage of her young high school ca­reer.

“I knew it was go­ing far, but I didn’t know if it was go­ing to go over be­cause I’d never hit one be­fore,” Sa­cadura said. “I was just really ex­cited. I couldn’t be­lieve it.”

Ryken (16-3), a young team that grad­u­ated its ace from last sea­son — All-Met Player of the Year Madi­son Augh­in­baugh — fea­tured five un­der­class­men in its start­ing lineup. After a “rough start” to the sea­son, se­nior Katie Preb­ble was proud of the way the team came to­gether, play­ing its best games when it mat­tered most.

“Even though this game didn’t go in our fa­vor,” said Preb­ble, who sin­gled in her last high school at-bat. “Th­ese girls are ready to come back next sea­son and ready to come back” to the cham­pi­onship.

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