Dani Woods summed up Alabama's plight in the College Softball World Series: "One strike. One simple little strike."
That's all Crimson Tide sophomore first baseman Woods (Dulaney) and her teammates needed to become the first team in school history to gain an opening-round victory last week.
Making that elusive, never-to-be-recorded strike even harder to digest was the fact that Tide pitcher Chrissy Owens and her teammates thought they had the game-clinching strikeout on a controversial 1-2 pitch to Northwestern's Erin Dyer with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning and Alabama leading 5-4.
Owens would then serve up a game-tying home run on the next pitch to Dyer, sending the game into extra innings and leading to a 6-5 loss in 10 innings. That dropped the Tide to the losers' bracket and seemingly deflated the team for the rest of the tournament, said Woods, after coach Patrick Murphy had stressed the importance of playing out of the winners' bracket in the eight-team double elimination field.
"The called third strike we didn't get against Northwestern in the last inning completely changed the entire game," Woods said. "It was a questionable ball or strike which they called a ball, and the next pitch she [Dyer] hit over the fence."
Fifth-seeded Alabama (54-11) would then fall to top-seeded UCLA, 4-1, Saturday, being eliminated in two straight games. Woods, batting cleanup, had an opportunity to change the momentum in the UCLA game, as she came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the fifth inning and the Tide down 3-1.
Woods did hit the ball hard but it was right at the shortstop, who threw home for a forceout.
Woods went 1-for-8 in the World Series and finished the season batting .287 (fifth on team), with 50 RBIs (second), seven home runs (third), 17 doubles (first), and .500 slugging percentage (fourth).
McDaniel senior Broderick Maybank (Eastern Tech) became the first five-time track and field All-American in school history 11 days ago, when he finished fifth in the triple jump at the NCAA Division III national championships at Benedictine (Ill.) University.
Maybank leaped 48 feet, 3.25 inches for fifth behind first-place finisher Fred Jones of Tufts, who jumped 49-7. The top eight finishers in the national finals gain All-America status.
Two days earlier, Maybank ran his All-America count to four with a fourth-place showing in the long jump (23-10).
Maybank entered this year's championships with three All-America honors, including a long jump national championship in 2004.
Rogers helps Macon
Randolph-Macon tied a school record for baseball wins in a season with 22 this spring, with junior first baseman Brian Rogers (Patapsco) playing an important role with a .321 batting average, a .404 slugging percentage, and a .996 fielding percentage (one error in 252 chances).
Rogers hit .385 in Old Dominion Athletic Conference games to lead the team (22-10).
Borchers a hit
Sophomore second baseman Allison Borchers (Fallston) had an impressive run at Delaware this spring, hitting .382, with seven triples and scoring 36 runs on the way to being chosen to the All-Colonial Athletic Association softball first team.
Borchers' season included a 15-game hitting streak and 21 multi-hit games. She was also a first-team All Mid-Atlantic Region choice.
Contact Bill Free by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 410-833-5349.