MORGANTOWN - It was certainly not the way she wanted to go out, but longtime University softball coach Barb Solly - who announced after the game that she was resigning - was as upbeat as a coach could be after her team was steamrolled 21-1 by powerful defending state champions John Marshall yesterday evening in the Region 1 semifinals at Mylan Park.
"When it's a one-and-done game like this, things can get out of hand, and you don't get a second chance to respond," she said. "But they really swung the bats well, and we struggled at the plate. That's the way it goes sometimes. Still, anytime you finish with a winning record and win your section, that's a good season."
The Monarchs (29-3) entered the game on a 22-game winning streak that included a pair of convincing victories against the Hawks by 10-0 and 19-7, and any thoughts of playoff jitters were pounded away in the top of the first as they sent nine to the plate and scored four runs on five hits. The onslaught continued in each subsequent inning as JM ripped a total of 24 hits and scored six in the second, then four, three, and four in the final three innings, respectively.
John Marshall’s Morgan Watson connects with a pitch for a hit against University High School at Mylan Park in Morgantown on Thursday afternoon.
Photo by Jason DeProspero
The Hawks (16-12) couldn't solve JM's hard-throwing lefty Amy Rotriga in the circle or at the plate. She surrendered just 2 hits in four innings while going 4-for-4 with 6 RBI, and it took Cierra Hamrick's pinch-hit RBI single in the final inning against reliever Megan Wise for UHS to finally dent the scoreboard.
"They're a team that plays together in the summer," Solly said of coach Ed West's Monarchs, "and that makes a big difference in terms of teamwork and team unity. They have a great chance to defend their title."
"That's an awfully good team, as you can see by the score," said University's Sarah Riddle, one of the Hawks five graduating seniors. "It's disappointing to lose your final game, but I'm not sure there was much we could've done to change the outcome. Still, even though we wanted to get to the state tournament, it's been so great to play four years with my fellow seniors. We're so close on and off the field, and those are the memories and friendships we'll take with us."
Solly explained that she had already told her team that this would be her final season.
"I told them I was proud of them, proud of the progress we made this year, and I told them I'd be around to help out in any way I can next year. I told the seniors that having them on the team for four years was a real joy," she smiled. "They were the most unselfish group of seniors I ever had, willing to do whatever we asked of them. They made it fun to come to practice and games, and I'll really miss them. Actually, I don't think I could bear coaching without them!"