GLEN DALE - The snap, crackle and pop of the ball hitting John Marshall catcher Kristin Lewicki's glove were about the only sounds the University softball team heard Thursday.
Monarchs junior left-hander Amy Rotriga was doing some serious dealing, coming within a Brooke Parks bloop single in the top of the seventh of a no-hitter as John Marshall (31-3) advanced to the West Virginia Class AAA Region One final with a 6-0 victory against the Hawks.
''She's gradually been getting there over the course of the last few weeks,'' Monarchs coach Ed West said. ''I think she's back.''
John Marshall’s Kristin Lewicki passes Coach Ed West at third en route to scoring the first run Thursday.
Photo by Rick Thorp
Rotriga fanned 10 on the way to running her consecutive scoreless innings streak to 23.1, and found the strike zone on 80 of her 101 pitches. She didn't allow a walk and the only person to reach prior to the one-out single in the seventh was her pitching counterpart, Sarah Riddle, who reached in the second when a Rotriga fastball came a little too far inside.
''I've seen her pitch very well in her last few weeks,'' West said. ''Our defense played well behind her - don't get me wrong, we had some help - but she looked very good. She was sharp and had the hitters off-balance.''
John Marshall will play host to East Fairmont, which beat North Marion, at 5 on Thursday for the right to go to the state tournament.
Riddle matched Rotriga with zeroes the first two innings, but the Monarchs got on the board in the bottom of the third on an innocent-looking play. Lewicki laid down a bunt that was fielded by Riddle who fired high to first, allowing the ball to roll all the way into the right-field corner. The ultra-fast Lewicki motored around and beat the tag of University catcher Marilyn DeSantis for a 1-0 lead.
''She has a way of doing that,'' West said of his junior catcher. ''Her speed really puts pressure on the defense. I knew as soon as I saw the ball get loose that she had a chance of scoring.
''She came around third and I was telling her to hold up, but I'm glad she didn't. She's a great competitor and she makes good choices.''
At that point, University coach Barb Solly wasn't all that worried. But that all changed an inning later when John Marshall put four runs on the board.
The Monarchs put two on as Megan Garcia singled and Hannah Rogerson drew a walk an out later. Alexa Jones singled in one run and that was followed by a hit off the bat of Rotriga.
It all came unraveled a batter later when another error plated two runs. Lewicki ended the onslaught with an RBI double.
''The thing is, it seems like we come out flat one game (but) if we could have played two, I think it might have been a little bit different,'' Solly said. ''John Marshall did a great job and they've had a really good season. I wish them luck in the tournament.
''We lost the game, but this is what I told the girls: we've struggled all season and they peaked at the right time.
''I have three good seniors, and I would have hated to have lost (earlier) and not seen this team rise up to its potential.''
The Monarchs pushed the final run across in the sixth and finished out the game in grand style, with Lewicki firing down to first to catch Tyler Anderson, who had reached on a fielder's choice, leaning.
''I think we're definitely the favorites going in,'' West said. ''East Fairmont we were supposed to play, but it got canceled.
''Last year they played us pretty good, and I think we beat them 5-2 in the regional final. And of course, the year before that when it was here, it was a great game.' "