Maurice Tawil’s three years as head coach of the McLean High girls’ softball team would make for a successful manual on how to get progressively better with each season.
The Highlanders, who have shown steady improvement since Tawil took over the program in 2007, won their biggest game during his time defeating a tough, scrappy West Potomac squad, 7-2, in a Northern Region quarterfinal playoff game over the Memorial Day weekend.
West Potomac (10-9) can take solace in losing to an up-and-coming McLean squad after a fairly successful season under first year head coach Rick Anderson came to a close. The Wolverines, the fourth place team from the Patriot District, won a first-round region playoff game over Yorktown. In the process they showed the pieces may already be in place to improve in the same manner as the opposing Highlanders have in recent years.
“It was a great year,” said Anderson. “We had lots of fun and the girls played really hard. The seniors adapted well [to the new coaching staff], drove the team well and were enthusiastic. We have a lot to build on.”
<b>MONDAY’S HOLIDAY</b> evening game, played under overcast conditions and some light rain, saved its dramatics for the latter innings. McLean looked to be in control of things through five innings. Sophomore pitcher Jamie Bell had limited West Potomac to just three hits in five shutout innings of work. The McLean offense, meanwhile, had scored a second inning run thanks to an RBI double by Allison Wilhelm, and tallied two more in the third inning on an RBI single off the bat of Megan Sullivan. On the Sullivan groundball base hit into right field, a second run ultimately crossed the plate as a result of a West Potomac defensive error.
But West Potomac, which had not scored after loading the bases on three walks in the fifth, finally got on the scoreboard in the top half of the sixth inning. Jess Harrington started the inning with a walk. Bell, however, retired the next two hitters and was one out away from keeping the shutout intact. But Wolverine hitter Maggie Berrigan reached on an infield single to set up runners on first and third.
That set up the strangest play of the game. Kelly Wood, the Wolverines’ No. 9 hitter, grounded a single into right field. One run scored on the hit. Wood, however, was caught in a rundown between first and second and appeared to be tagged out at first before a second run had crossed the plate.
But following a lengthy umpires’ meeting, it was ruled Wood was safe at first as a result of a McLean infielder dropping the ball on the tag. Thus, the second run was allowed and the Wolverines closed to within 3-2. Bell got out of the inning by retiring the next batter and the game moved into McLean’s bottom half of the sixth.
There, any hopes of a West Potomac comeback pretty much ended as the Highlanders busted things open with four runs. The big blow was a two-out, three-run home run off the bat of No. 3 hitter Lauren Sutherland that made the score 7-2. West Potomac went down in order in the seventh to give McLean the victory.
In the loss, West Potomac received a fine pitching effort from freshman Morgan Maniglia, who also threw a gem in the 3-2 upset victory over Yorktown last Friday.
“She pitched a beautiful game,” said Anderson, who said Maniglia was his team’s choice for the All-Tournament team. “It was a good game and we hung in there.”