Despite winning a total of 38 games during the 2007 and 2008 seasons, the South County softball team advanced past the challenge it was faced with late Monday afternoon at Falls Church High School for the Northern Region quarterfinals.
In 2007, South County went 20-4 but lost to Herndon, 2-0, in the first round of the region tournament. Then in 2008, South County met the Hornets again and dropped a 1-0 decision.
While Monday’s contest was against a less familiar opponent in Marshall, the Stallions’ goal remained the same: reach the region semifinals for the first time in the program’s four-year history.
Consider history made. The Stallions rattled off nine hits and Chelsey Dunham pitched a gem, as they cruised to a 4-0 win, earning a 7 p.m. date Wednesday with the winner of McLean and West Potomac’s quarterfinal contest.
“It’s a great feeling to go on to the next round,” said right fielder Julia Kastner, who led the way with a 3-for-4 effort, including a double, a run scored and two RBIs.
Playing against Marshall, Thompson said, was especially daunting because the Statesmen had pulled an upset of Westfield in the first round. South County, meanwhile, just wanted to stay level and not worry about too much besides its own issues.
“It’s always harder to play somebody that upset somebody because they’ve had a taste of it,” Thompson said. “We just wanted to get to Wednesday. If we got to Wednesday, all we want is to get to Friday. That would be the ultimate goal.”
Dunham punched South County’s ticket with an outstanding individual effort. She needed only 82 pitches to toss a two-hit shutout, while neither of those two baserunners even reached second base. Dunham threw 56 of those pitches for strikes — 17 of 23 on the first pitch — and punched out 11 Marshall hitters.
“It’s a lot of fun to watch Chelsey, but we know that any good pitcher can get hit so our defense was ready,” Thompson said.
“She was amazing as usual, just strikeouts after strikeouts and not letting a lot of people on," said Kastner. "She does great with not letting them score any runs.”
Kastner and Co. went to work in the third inning. Karly Thompson led off with a single and Michelle Boynton’s sacrifice bunt attempt turned into an error. Facing a 1-1 count, Kastner doubled to score Thompson for the Stallions’ first run.
Taylor Dillow’s groundout produced the second run and Stephanie Sbardella (2-for-3, RBI) ripped a single to left for the third run of the game. In the fourth inning, Dunham walked to lead off the inning before Thompson’s sacrifice moved her over. After Boyton’s groundout, Kastner brought Dunham around with a line drive to center.