Down 4-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning Tuesday against Garrison Forest, Chapelgate's players kept telling themselves to stay patient. The hits — the ones that had helped the Yellowjackets compile an undefeated mark in the IAAM B Conference so far this spring — were going to come.
“Really, we just had to start being a little more aggressive up there … we had three or four strikeouts looking in those first few innings,” said Chapelgate coach John Isaac, who had watched his girls manage just one hit through the first four innings. “I kept telling them just put the ball in play and good stuff is going to happen. We have speed and speed has a way of making things happen.”
Sure enough, freshman Jianna Casamento led off with an infield single and Nicole Edmondson followed with a walk to get Chapelgate (6-0, 9-1) some action on the basepaths. And then, after a couple wild pitches plated the two of them, the floodgates opened.
In that fifth inning, Chapelgate sent 14 runners to the plate, got at least one single from every batter in the line-up and put nine runs on the board to issue the deciding blow in an eventual 12-6 victory.
At one point in the inning, the team strung together nine straight base hits.
“Once a few of us got the ball in play and we were able to get a couple people on, all of sudden it spread to the whole team,” said Chapelgate sophomore Phoebe Cleaver, who had an RBI and scored a run in the inning. “It was like everyone suddenly felt like they were going to get a hit every time they came up.”
Garrison Forest did recover to score a couple runs of its own in the top of the sixth, making it 9-6. But Chapelgate shut the door on any late rallies by the visiting Grizzlies when it added another three runs in its half of the inning to create the final six-run margin.
The late offensive explosion was eerily similar to what happened when the two team’s met earlier this spring, as Garrison Forest took an early 5-1 lead before eventually suffering a 21-8 loss to the Yellowjackets.
“We’ve had enough huge innings now this year that we know we’re capable of putting one together at any moment. Having that in the back of your mind, being able to think back to a game like that one earlier against them we won 21-8, that definitely helps,” Isaac said.
Garrison Forest pitcher MacKenzie Wilson had done a great job at the onset of keeping Chapelgate on its heels. She struck out eight batters through the first four frames, including striking out the side in the first inning with the bases loaded (two walks and a single).
Wilson also got it done at the plate, driving in the two runs for the Grizzlies with a triple to right field in the third inning and another two with a single in the sixth.
Garrison Forest scored one run in the first and another three in the third to build its 4-0 cushion.
But, after struggling through the lineup two straight times, Chapelgate finally found its groove. With every hit in that fifth inning, Garrison Forest seemed to become more and more discouraged.
“It’s not about how long it takes as long as you get it done before you record that 21st out … this team never gives up,” Isaac said.
Cleaver finished with a team-high 3 RBI and was one of eight Yellowjackets with multiple hits. Jianna Casamento’s three singles also were a team-high. Courtney Bohn led the team with three stolen bases.
Bethanne Venkatesan picked up the victory on the bump for Chapelgate, going all seven innings and striking out five.
The win keeps the Yellowjackets perched atop the IAAM B Conference, riding neck-and-neck with Annapolis Area Christian. Isaac says this may be the year his team puts it all together.
“We’ve got five seniors and this is about getting them their crown,” Isaac said. “We’ve never won it, been really close a few times, but never finished it off. I feel like these girls are ready.”
Chapelgate 12, Garrison Forest 6
123 456 7 R-H-E
GF 103 002 0 6-8-5
CCA 000 093 x 12-18-6