The West Potomac softball team had breezed through most of its Patriot District schedule heading into its May 3 rematch with South County, the only team to blemish the Wolverines’ district record. South County hadn’t lost a district game since 2007, but taking the Stallions into extra innings before losing 1-0 on March 25 showed West Potomac could compete with best.
The second meeting began much like the first, with West Potomac sophomore pitcher Morgan Maniglia matching South County senior standout Chelsey Dunham zero-for-zero on the scoreboard. But in the top of the fifth inning, a pair of West Potomac errors led to two unearned runs for South County. The support was more than enough for Dunham, who has rarely been scored upon this season.
Dunham allowed only one hit — a single by Danielle McHugh — as the Stallions blanked the Wolverines 6-0 at West Potomac. Only two of the six runs allowed by Maniglia were earned, but they were enough to drop the Wolverines’ record to 12-4, 8-2 in the district, snapping a seven-game winning streak.
Maniglia entered the game with a 0.49 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 71 innings.
"I think she pitched well enough to keep us in the ball game," head coach Craig Maniglia, Morgan’s father, said. "Unfortunately, when you have errors, it works mostly on the mindset of the pitcher. I think she hung in there pretty tough. … I think she had her stuff, [South County] just hit. If you give a team of that quality four or five outs an inning, you’re going to lose."
Craig and Morgan Maniglia said the Wolverines focus on treating each game with the same level of preparation and intensity. After the May 3 loss, the coach said his pitcher didn’t come with the right approach.
"Morgan’s big thing is she likes to compete, she likes to win," he said. "She can’t stand to lose and she puts all the pressure on her. When she came here tonight her mindset was ‘I’ll either win this game or lose this game,’ and that’s the wrong motto for this team."
The sophomore said the Wolverines were too excited.
"There was a lot of hype and a lot of [desire] to win this game and we wanted it so badly," she said. "It was almost a negative thing."
The West Potomac lineup, which has thrived this season, was quieted. Four players entered the contest batting .395 or better, led by senior Zannie Crowe. The infielder was hitting .522 with six home runs and 26 RBIs.
Is there a different mindset when facing a pitcher as talented as Dunham?
"I like to treat her like any other pitcher," Crowe said, "but I know that she does have control of the ball and she can throw [quality] pitches and she knows the game probably better than some of the other pitchers."
Morgan Maniglia entered the game hitting .489 with 13 RBIs, Sara Link was batting .444 and Maggie Berrigan was at .395.
If second-place West Potomac is able to bounce back, there’s a chance the Wolverines will meet the Stallions for a third time — in the district tournament championship game.
"We’ll just get them next time," Morgan Maniglia said. "We’ve got to keep fighting."