The Christopher Newport University softball team had a mental breakdown of epic proportions in the sixth inning, but it was nothing compared to what happen to the Captains one inning later.
Former Riverbend standout Emerald Cheesbrew’s pinch-hit, two-run double tied the score at 5–5 in the seventh, but the play didn’t stand. After CNU coach Keith Parr re-entered original batter Sarah Proctor as a pinch-runner for Cheesbrew and subsequent batter Natalie Carmichael was sent to the dugout by the home plate umpire (wrongly thinking she had been replaced by Cheesbrew), Dee Conway and the University of Mary Washington coaches realized something was amiss. They pointed out the irregularity.
After the two umpires conferred, Cheesbrew was ruled out for batting-out-of-turn, ending the game and allowing the Eagles to escape with a 5–3 victory in the opening game of a critical Capital Athletic Conference doubleheader Saturday.
“We jumbled up our lineup for that particular game,” Parr admitted afterward. “It was big mess up on my part. Luckily the girls were able to bounce back and have a great game.”
In the nightcap, the Captains (28–6) torched three UMW hurlers for 18 hits en route to an 18–1 victory, leaving the Captains and Eagles regular-season co-champions at 9–3 in the CAC.
Both teams will be playing their opening CAC tournament games at home on Friday; the final of the tournament will be a best 2-out-of-3 on May 3-4, with the winner getting an automatic NCAA invitation.
The two sides disagreed on whom would be the tournament’s higher seed, which could rest on the outcome of Monday’s season-ending doubleheader between Salisbury State and host Frostburg.
“There are several tiebreakers and I have to refresh my memory exactly what they are before I speak,” spoke Parr.
“We had to win at least one game to get a first or second seed,” Conway said. “[I] think the first game took so much out of us emotionally and mentally, it drained us.”
Junior Megan Hibbs gave the Eagles a much-needed lift in the opener, shutting down the CNU bats after starter Jamie Putrell surrendered a pair of runs in the first two innings. She yielded four hits in total.
“She [Hibbs] worked on her rise ball and she had [good] movement. Our defense is pretty tight this year,” said Eagles catcher Rachel Porchie, who threw out one baserunner, while third baseman Daylah Sawyer turned a third-inning line drive into a double play.
The Eagles closed to within one run with a pair of runs in the fourth inning. Sawyer singled to get things started and a sacrifice bunt by Courtney Shea and Hibbs’ base hit produced the runs.
In the Captains’ nightmarish sixth inning, a pair of throwing errors by reliever Trish Webb on successive bunt attempts produced the tying run for the Eagles. Two more UMW baserunners scored on third baseman Kaitlyn Hasty’s errant throw on Rachel Remer’s grounder.
After a 30-minute break, the Captains (third-ranked in the Division III coaches poll) came back with a vengeance. Sarah Proctor sparked a 10-run fourth inning with a bases-clearing double. She finished with three hits and four RBIs. Teammate Patty Mae Ohanian added three hits and two RBIs.
“We just needed to get that win and so we just wanted to string our hits together—show our coach we can do it,” said Proctor, a freshman from Louisa who came into the day hitting .314 with 23 RBIs and successfull on 14-of-15 steal attempts.
Sophomore Emily Weatherholtz, who won a state title while pitching for Osbourn Park in Manassas, was sharp on the mound, scattering three hits and striking out four, improving to 10–1 on the season.
“Emily has a lot of focus and stays into the game,” Parr said. “She always has great command around the strike zone.”
Porchie had two hits for the Eagles (19–6), including her fifth home run of the season. About her team’s offensive woes, the sophomore commented: “We were giving them routine plays; we weren’t hitting in the right spots.”