Tuesday’s home game against Lake Braddock was shaping up to be everything the Woodson softball team could ask for in a senior night.
The Cavaliers entered the seventh inning with a three-run lead in a battle for first place in the Patriot District, and each of Woodson’s three seniors had played a role in getting there. Pitcher Naomi Kennedy was throwing a two-hit shutout, center fielder KJ Johnson scored the go-ahead run in the second inning and catcher Shannon McCloud smacked a home run over the center field fence in the sixth. All the Cavaliers needed were three more outs to put the finishing touches on a memorable evening.
Lake Braddock assured that would be no easy task.
Ashley Flesch reached on a Woodson error to lead off the top of the seventh and back-to-back RBI doubles from Kelly Plescow and Nicole May made things interesting. However, a disputed look back violation call at third base derailed the Bruins’ rally and Woodson held on for a 3-2 victory on May 10.
May, who had doubled in a run to cut Woodson’s lead to 3-2, later advanced to third base and rounded the bag. Woodson eventually threw the ball to Kennedy in the pitching area and May was ruled out for being off the base once the Cavalier pitcher had the ball in the circle.
After the game, the home plate umpire told The Connection the call was originally going to be for obstruction on Woodson, but it was determined the Lake Braddock runner had committed a look back violation.
Lake Braddock head coach George Rumore was not pleased with the call.
"He called obstruction," Rumore said. "The fielder got in the way and the runner had already made the turn heading for home. Normally, when there’s obstruction, he awards the next base. He said, she could have gone back to third base, which is not the call. She’s not out because she was still off the bag. He’s saying the pitcher had the ball on the mound, but she never went back to the bag, so she’s fine, so it was a bad call."
Woodson head coach Bob Coleman saw the play differently.
It was the "correct call," he said. "Good for us, bad for them. You hate to see it come down to that because both teams played very hard."
With the victory, Woodson improved to 14-2, including 11-2 in the district. The Cavaliers can clinch the No. 1 seed in the Patriot District Tournament by defeating Lee in the regular season finale at 6:30 p.m. on May 12. Lake Braddock (13-6, 10-3) closes the regular season with a home game on May 12 against T.C. Williams and will likely be the No. 2 seed in the tournament. Woodson and Lake Braddock split their regular season meetings, with the Bruins winning 3-2 on April 11.
Kennedy earned the victory on Tuesday, throwing a complete game. The right-hander allowed two runs — one earned — and four hits while walking none and striking out four. She pitched with a one-run lead for four innings before getting a pair of insurance runs in the sixth. Kennedy was on her way to a shutout before running into trouble in the seventh. After the game, she acknowledged assuming victory.
"I was subconsciously telling myself, ‘Oh, hey, we got this,’" she said. "But I [told myself], ‘No, don’t do that.’"
Kennedy threw 60 of 84 pitches for strikes and delivered a first-pitch strike to 16 of 26 batters faced. She is the only Cavalier to throw a pitch this season.
"Naomi’s battled all year," Coleman said. "She’s why we’re where we’re at. … She’s been above and beyond anything we could imagine."
Juniors Kelsey Schwartzbach and Alexa Senio each delivered a run-scoring single for Woodson. The big hit of the night came from McCloud, who led off the bottom of the sixth with a line drive homer to center field, giving the Cavaliers a 2-0 advantage.
"It was huge," Coleman said of McCloud’s round-tripper. "She had two ugly at bats before and then came through. We approach each at bat as a different mindset, different adventure and that’s’ what she did. She forgot the last two and went after that and it worked out for her."
McCloud, who signed with the University of Mary Washington, said she didn’t think the drive was going to be a home run.
"I thought it was to the fence," McCloud said. "But when I looked up and it was gone, it was a good feeling."
Flesch, a freshman, suffered the loss for Lake Braddock, allowing three runs and five hits in six innings while walking three and striking out five.
"She missed some spots, but she did really good," Rumore said. "She kept us in the game and that’s all you can ask your pitcher. The bottom line is we didn’t score the runs."
The Patriot District Tournament begins May 16.
"The kids hung in there like they did all year. That’s what these guys do," said Coleman, whose Cavaliers finished district runner-up last season. "We don’t kill anybody or impress anybody or anything like that, we just hang in there."