Kate Bauman’s first pitch against Hayfield on May 6 skipped in the dirt. The junior’s second delivery grazed the catcher’s mitt and sailed to the backstop.
"The first two pitches," Bauman said, "were a little scary."
The Yorktown pitcher needed time to settle into her start against the National District’s top softball team, but once she did, Bauman held the Hawks to just one hit during a five-inning stretch. Unfortunately for Bauman and the Patriots, Hayfield’s two runs on three hits in the first inning were all the Hawks needed.
Hayfield defeated Yorktown 2-0 on Friday at HSS, in a rematch of last season’s district championship game. The Hawks won the season’s earlier meeting, 5-3, on April 15. While Bauman shut Hayfield down for most of Friday’s contest, the Patriots failed to break through against Hawks pitcher Amber Fowler.
The defeat came three days after the Patriots lost to Washington-Lee, the team Yorktown is battling for the No. 2 seed in the district tournament.
"W-L, especially, was a frustrating loss, but I think we learned from it," Bauman said after Friday’s contest. "We came out today stronger. Even though we lost, we played well. I think going into the district [tournament] we’ll be ready. Things are going to turn around."
Bauman allowed two runs and four hits while walking two and striking out three over six innings on Friday. Other than bouncing back from a rough start, what made Bauman’s outing impressive was her ability to not get distracted by controversy.
With one out and a runner on first base in the bottom of the first inning, Hayfield’s Fowler hit a pop up that dropped in shallow center field. Yorktown center fielder Julia Cushing picked up the ball and threw to second base, where shortstop Kelly John appeared to have trouble locating the bag. Hayfield catcher Samantha Perry-Shifflett slid into second base, dislodging the bag, and was ruled out. But after the umpires discussed the call, the base umpire’s ruling was overturned, giving the Hawks runners on first and second with one out.
After a pop out and an infield single loaded the bases with two outs, sophomore Taryn McElehenny delivered a two-run single that wouldn’t have occurred if the earlier call at second base hadn’t been overturned.
"It cost us the game, so I hope [the home plate umpire] was 100 percent sure, that’s all I can say," Yorktown assistant coach Deb Litman said. "But, hey, we also didn’t score any runs. You’re not going to win any games if you don’t score any runs."
Bauman said she focused on making her next pitch rather than getting caught up in the moment.
"I was definitely really happy with the rest of the game," she said. "The first inning was frustrating, but the fact that we were able to have a bad inning and hold them for the rest of the game was really important for us."
Yorktown head coach Julie Fetter said the loss was due to a lack of execution, not lack of focus.
"They’re pretty good about just getting past it," she said of the overturned call in the first inning. "We knew what we had to do, we just didn’t get on the board. We went out there and continued playing and didn’t give up."
Offensively, the Patriots were limited to three hits — all singles — and had only one runner reach second base. John, third baseman Lindsay Irving and right fielder Rachel Leonard each had a hit for Yorktown.
"We hit Amber well the first time we played them and I think we hit her well tonight," said Litman, adding Fowler pitched better Friday than she did during the teams’ first meeting. "There just seemed to be an outfielder everywhere we hit it."
The district tournament begins on May 17. If Bauman continues to pitch the way she did against Hayfield, the Patriots should be in contention for a district title.
"I think it was the best game she pitched all year," Litman said of Bauman’s effort Friday. "Her change up was on. When her change up is on, she’s close to unhittable. The first time that we played [the Hawks], their top four batters were the only batters that had hits. Today, she held their top four batters to one single … and one walk, otherwise, nothing. When you can do that against those four hitters that are great hitters, that’s as good as you can ask for from your pitcher."