The Robinson Secondary girls’ softball team has hit the ball fairly well throughout this spring season. But the Rams had no answers at the plate last Friday evening, May 20 during their Concorde District tournament semifinals game versus Chantilly.
Robinson managed only three singles against Chantilly pitching ace Alex Sallberg and lost to the Chargers, 2-0. No. 2-seed Chantilly (14-6), with the win, advanced to this past Monday night’s district title game where it lost to top seed Westfield, 6-3, in the contest played at Chantilly.
Robinson (12-9), despite the loss to Chantilly, still qualified for this week’s 16-team Northern Region playoffs by winning its district tournament quarterfinals round game over Herndon, 3-2, earlier last week on Wednesday, May 18. The win over the Hornets advanced the Rams, the district’s No. 3-seed, to the semifinals meeting with Chantilly, a team which has experienced an outstanding breakthrough season following a 2010 spring which saw the Chargers go 6-13.
Robinson will travel to Hayfield this Friday evening, May 27 at 7 for a first round region playoff encounter against the Hawks. Chantilly, meanwhile, will host Mount Vernon on Friday.
<b>IN FRIDAY’S</b> district semifinals game, Robinson had only one base runner advance as far as third base. All three of the Rams’ hits were singles – a slap, infield safety by left-handed hitting Laura Turkekul in the top of the third inning; a ground ball base hit into right field off the bat of Jillian Powers in the fifth inning; and another infield single, once again by No. 9 batter Turkekul, in the sixth.
“I know their pitcher has been coming on strong,” said Robinson coach Barry Gorodnick, of Chantilly’s Sallberg. “She’s gotten better and better as the year progressed. Our last two games we haven’t hit the ball very well.”
Sallberg, a sophomore who struck out eight and walked none, benefitted from a good defense behind her as the Chargers committed just one error on the night while coming up with some sparkling defensive gems. One of those came in the top of the fourth inning when Chantilly center fielder Wendy Sloan, on a sharply hit ball by Robinson left-handed swinging Clare McGowan, came running in and made a nifty, sliding catch for the first out of the inning.
Sallberg retired the first eight Robinson batters she faced before Turkekul’s infield single to shortstop with two outs in the third. Sallberg struck out the next batter to retire the side.
Robinson, trailing 1-0, threatened to score in the fourth inning. With one out, following Sloan’s outstanding catch, Rams’ catcher Allie Newcomb hit an infield grounder which resulted in her getting to second base on a throwing error. A bunt out by Haley Clements advanced Newcomb to third with two outs.
Sallberg ended the threat with a strikeout.
In the fifth, Robinson, still down just 1-0, saw Powers, a senior, start the inning off with her single into right field. But she was caught attempting to steal second on an excellent throw by Chantilly catcher Tori Doherty. Turkekul started the sixth inning off with her second infield hit before Sallberg and the Chargers retired the next three batters.
The right-hander retired the Rams in order in the seventh and final inning. For the game, Sallberg threw an efficient 85 pitches.
“She’s a mentally tough player and knows where to put the ball,” said Chantilly coach Carmen Wise, of Sallberg. “She’s a sophomore, young, and we’re very lucky to have her.”
<b>SALLBERG</b>, in nursing her team’s 1-0 lead, said she tried to keep her composure during the latter portion of the game when Robinson saw its leadoff batters reach base in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
“I kept it cool and concentrated,” she said. “I threw it like I normally do. I was a little nervous but knew we could get them. It feels good to have the [defensive] support behind me.”
Chantilly scored single runs in both the second and sixth innings. Dani Almodiel hit a ground ball single to start the second inning. Later, with the bases loaded, she scored when teammate Jen Loh was hit by a pitch.
Chantilly added an insurance run in the sixth despite not getting a base hit. Sloan reached on a fielder’s choice. She later scored on a batted ball by Sallberg which resulted in an error.
While Sallberg pitched outstanding for the Chargers, Rams’ pitching ace Lauren Stapleton also pitched a top-notch game. Over six innings, the Rams’ junior allowed two runs (one earned) and just four hits. The Chantilly hits, all singles, came from Sallberg, Loh (bunt single), Almodiel, and Sloan.
Stapleton struck out seven, walked three, and hit two batters.
“Lauren’s done well and kept us in every game,” said Gorodnick. “We’ve got to help her [at the plate].”