Before the start of the Class 4A State Championship game Friday night, coach Don Ellenberger took out a picture of this year’s team and showed it to the girls.
“At the beginning of the season you all wanted to be a part of this—of a team,” he said. “And now, you are a team. No one person, or two persons, is going to win this game. Whatever happens, enjoy the moment.”
It took members of that unified team to comfort one another as Chesapeake’s 17-game winning streak came to end Friday night in College Park. The Chesapeake Cougars (20-6) fell to Sherwood High School (21-0) 1-0 in the Class 4A state softball title.
“It was still an amazing year. I have never been so proud of this team,” said Cougar leftfielder Olivia Ravadge. “Nobody thought we would get this far. And to make it here is unbelievable. We had a winning season in my eyes.”
Chesapeake came into the playoffs on a tear, winning 17 consecutive games despite a 3-5 start to the season. But the streak came to a halt as the Cougars failed to capitalize on key situations, and made costly errors Friday night.
The Cougars battled Sherwood throughout most of the game and had several opportunities to take the lead.
In the bottom of the third, shortstop Emily Kirby hit a blooper in between first and second base for a leadoff single. Then, thanks to a single from Kim Federowicz and a hit batter, Kirby found herself on third base with two outs and power hitter Deja Sutton at the plate.
Sherwood pitcher, Meggie Djeter, threw a wild pitch past the catcher and Kirby took off—only to be called out at the plate.
“I think that passed ball was a gift from God to Sherwood because it came right back to the catcher,” said Ellenberger. “If it had gone one way or the other you are safe. I would have sent her anyway because I didn’t believe anybody was going to make that play.”
Despite some great pitching from Sherwood ace Djeter, Chesapeake outhit the warriors five-to-one but failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities. The Cougars stranded seven runners throughout the game. However, Sherwood’s one hit proved to be all they needed to clinch their first Class 4A state title.
In the top of the sixth, with the game still tied 0-0, Sherwood’s leadoff batter Emily Hughes got the Warriors' only hit, a leadoff single to left field. Hughes advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt on the next at bat, and then to third on a groundout.
With two outs, tied 0-0, Sherwood centerfielder Nicole Stockinger hit a fly ball to center field. Chesapeake outfielder Danielle Myers made a run on the ball and was able to get her glove on it. However, she was unable to complete the catch as Sherwood took a 1-0 lead, which proved to be all they needed.
“That ball in the outfield, [Myers] had to run a country mile to get to that, and then she had it in the glove and it just sort of popped out,” Ellenberger said. “It happens. And I told her ‘you can’t worry about that’ because how many balls has she made that [catch] to keep our streak going and get us here. She had a tremendous year.”
While the seven-time state champion Chesapeake Cougars came off the field with teary eyes and a weary walk, they embraced each other one at a time with the gentle reminder of all that they had accomplished this season.
“It’s disappointing for the seniors, but I told the girls we are as proud as we could possibly be of them,” Ellenberger said. “At the beginning of the year I don’t think many people gave us the opportunity to be here. Today just wasn’t our day, but they should be extremely proud of what they accomplished.”
Check back on Tuesday for a photo gallery of Friday night’s game.