Stone Bridge Softball Wins Region Title
Controversial call in final inning helps Stone Bridge in win over Oakton.
Though the Oakton High softball team entered the seventh with a two-run lead, a Stone Bridge comeback — aided by Cougar errors and a controversial call — in the bottom of the inning for a 5-4 final score crowned the Bulldogs the 2012 Northern Region Champions on Saturday.
"For the most part this year, we've gotten ahead early and stayed there," Coach Billy Rice said. "So it was great to see how they reacted in this situation. They're a resilient group. They fight and work really hard in practice, so I thought we'd make a really good run at it."
The Cougars got on the scoreboard in the first inning with one run, but the Bulldogs went on a two-out rally in the bottom of the second to grab a 2-1 lead thanks to an RBI double from left fielder Emily Kenny.
The Cougars reclaimed the lead on a two-run homer from shortstop Emily Krisanda in the top of the third inning with a single. They added to their lead in the fourth on an RBI single from third baseman Hayley French.
With Allison Davis, the Northern Region Pitcher of the Year, in the circle after holding the Bulldogs to four hits, striking out five batters and walking two, the Cougars looked poised to take home their first Northern Region title since 2001.
"It's the best pitcher we've seen all year, and she kept us in check for a long time," Rice said. "... We started with bunting early to get our timing down. I do have some pretty good hitters, and you get to a point where you just let your hitters hit."
But the bottom of the seventh started with a fielding error to put Kenny at first, then a single to left field from Katie Bellino, who had pinch runner Devyn Hine take her place on the base path, to put the tying run on. A wild pitch put both runners in scoring position, and Niki Prince's RBI groundout pulled the Bulldogs within one of tying the game.
Then the controversy: Courtney Gibson hit the ball back to the pitcher, and Allison Davis threw to Krage at the plate to put Hine in a rundown. When Krage threw to French at third, French dove and appeared to tag her for the second out, but the home plate umpire called her safe. The Bulldogs tied the game 4-4 with a runner at second, as Gibson took an extra base during the rundown.
"When you play a game, you want the outcome to be based on the girls' play and not a decision made by someone else," said Rice, who also had a conversation with the umpires earlier in the game after a close call at third base favored the Cougars. "Hopefully that's what happened tonight."
Two batters later, Sydney Broderick hit an RBI single down the third base line for the walk-off winning hit to give the Bulldogs their first region title since 2006.
With their Northern Region Championship appearance, the Bulldogs have earned a berth in the AAA Virginia High School League tournament. They will host Patrick Henry High at 7 p.m. Tuesday for the first round. The semifinals and finals will be hosted at Westfield High on Friday and Saturday.