For Old Mill to qualify for the upcoming Class 4A, Region IV playoffs, it needed to defeat Chesapeake yesterday in Pasadena.
A tall order?
Try gigantic, even for a team that nearly upset the Cougars earlier this year.
"It's very frustrating," said Patriots coach Lori Darnall, after a 2-0 loss eliminated her squad from the postseason.
"We lost a lot of games by one run, and in every one of those games, we had more opportunities to score than the other team. If we had [won] before, we wouldn't have to wait until now. But we always seem to wait until the last minute.
"That's the difference between their team and our team. That's why we're going home and they're not."
No. 1 Chesapeake (18-0) will begin its quest for an unprecedented fourth straight 4A state title on Thursday. Old Mill (12-6), ranked fifth in the metro area, ends a season that began with much promise, but never lived up to expectations.
One of the highlights for the Patriots this spring was a 3-2 loss to Chesapeake on May 6. Few teams have come that close to ending a Cougars winning streak that reached 37 games yesterday.
"That's the difference between their record and our record. We get the opportunities and can't take advantage of them, where they get the opportunities, and they do," Darnall said.
Old Mill didn't get many opportunities against senior pitcher Lori Congdon. Only two Patriots reached base -- both on second-inning singles -- and the last 17 batters were retired.
Congdon struck out 12 -- giving her 103 on the season -- and didn't issue a walk. In her only inning of difficulty, after Lauren Spears led off with a single and Karen Jacobson reached on a one-out infield hit, she struck out Angie Mihalic and Christine Baer.
"We finally figured out how to lay off her rise ball, and then she goes and gets the changeup working," Darnall said.
Congdon (10-0) said, "I knew they were waiting on the rise ball when I was ahead of them, so we tried to mix it up -- throw in a curve or keep it outside. We tried to keep them off-balance. We were throwing a lot low and outside."
Chesapeake scored once in the first inning off Jacobson (5-5). Stacey Necessary singled up the middle with one out, stole second moved to third on a groundout and came home on a single by shortstop Jaime Long.
Long (2-for-3) came into the game batting .373 with 17 RBI.
In the third inning, Long singled to left with two outs, advanced to third on a single by Natalie Black (2-for-3) and scored on an infield hit by Congdon. That was the last run Chesapeake would score off Jacobson, who gave up eight hits and struck out two.