The day started out magical but ended up somber for the Northeast softball team on Monday.
After knocking top-seeded Chesapeake out of the tournament for the third straight year, the Eagles traveled back to their home field, where Class 3A East Region Section I champion Reservoir had a decent break after dispatching Centennial earlier, 12-2.
The rest did Reservoir well, as did the defense behind freshman pitcher Kylee Gunkel, as the Gators gobbled up everything that was hit on the ground and defeated the Eagles, 7-4, for the Class 3A East Region title.
“I was told (Reservior) was a good, sound defensive team. They made every play,” Northeast coach Joe Hart said. “They made the plays that counted.”
The Eagles got up early after No. 2 hitter Madison Schelfe singled, moved to second on a ground out and scored on a single from Jenna Matulonis. Christina Jordan followed with a triple to stake the Eagles to a 2-0 lead.
Reservoir answered with three in the bottom of the first as Hunter Little roped a two-run double and scored on a Macayla Allen single to take the lead after one.
The guests, which were technically the home team, managed another run in the second when Desi Hatzakos reached on an error to lead off the inning, went to second on a sacrifice, took third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch.
Abby Wang started the fourth for the Gators with a single, Katy Wnuk-Fink followed with a double, Hatzakos stroked an RBI single and Holly Daum drove in Hatzakos with a base hit to give Reservoir a 6-2 lead after four.
The Gators scored their final run in the fifth by way of walks as the first four batters in the inning walked, with Wang credited with the RBI. A strikeout, a great play by Northeast second baseman Mallory Hetzel cut a run down at home and a second strikeout allowed the Eagles to escape yielding just one run.
Northeast answered in the sixth with a run when Hetzel reached first on a fielders choice, moved up on a Jenna Matulonis single and scored on Jordan’s single to make it 7-3.
The Eagles still had life in the seventh as Heather Barlege hit a two-out single, Veronica Hampton singled, Schelfe walked, Hetzel also walked to drive in a run. A pop-up ended the threat and sends the Gators to face South region champion Huntingtown on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Bachman Sports Complex.
“After we beat Centennial, we went under the bleachers to get out of the sun and rested,” Reservoir coach Julie Frisvold said. “Then we heard we were playing Northeast, so I told the girls they are a very good team and we needed to jump on them early. We needed to attack them and be ready to go.”
Third baseman Emma Bailey, who was the starter against Centennial, had several shots hit her way throughout the game and fielded every one cleany, as did Little at shortstop.
“The left side, in particular, played very sound defense,” Frisvold said. “And the infield is especially grateful for having a first baseman. A good infielder is always supported by a great first baseman.”
Earlier in the day, second-seeded Northeast made the trip down Mountian Road to take on rival and top-seeded Chesapeake. Unlike the Reservoir game, the runs were bunched for the Eagles.
Matulonis drove in a run with a single in the first to score Hampton, but Brionna Bowman drove in Haley Downin, who had doubled, to tie the score at 1 after the first inning.
In the Eagles third, Schelfe hit a triple to lead off the inning and scored on a sacrifice fly by Matulonis. Mallory Hetzel, who had walked after Schelfe’s triple, scored on a base hit by Kiersten Tomshack to give the visitors a 3-1 advantage.
Chesapeake got a run back in the fourth when Kexin Wang led off with a single, Downin and Tristyn Stewart walked and Bowman drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 3-2 after four.
Northeast plated a pair of runs in the sixth when Melanie Kral walked, Makayla Belanger singled and Barlege provided a two-run single to give the Eagles a 5-2 lead.
Northeast put the game away in the seventh when a Tomshack triple brought in Matulonis and Jordan and Tomshack scored on a Kral single to give the Eagles the upset victory.
“We hit the ball that game. We weren’t a great hitting team during the regular season, so when we were off because of the rain, we hit, hit and hit. And then we hit some more,” Hart said. “Plus we worked our way out of a few jams, so that helped. We lost to them both times during the regular season, but I don’t put a lot on the regular season.”
Chesapeake finishes off an undefeated regular season by ending with a record of 21-2.
Northeast (13-9) 200 001 1 — 4
Reservoir 310 210 x — 7
Northeast (13-8) 102 002 3 — 8
Chesapeake (21-2) 100 100 0 — 2