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NW Region Softball: Spartans pound Barker, eliminate North Stafford

BY JUSTIN RICE

ASHBURN—Few teams in her high school career ever hit North Stafford pitcher Kelsie Barker hard.

Few teams, though, boast a lineup like Broad Run’s.

The Spartans tagged Barker for eight hits—including a 4-for-4 night by junior McKall Miller—and Broad Run ended the Wolverines’ season with a 5–2 win on Wednesday in the Northwest Region Tournament semifinals. The Spartans, playing their first Group AAA season after three straight Group AA state titles from 2007–09, have qualified for next week’s state quarterfinals.

It wasn’t that Barker had a bad night, North Stafford coach Pam Kantor said. The Spartans just put the bat on the ball.

“She pitched her heart out for us all season,” Kantor said. “We didn’t put it in play enough, and our defense didn’t play perfectly.”

Broad Run had been handcuffed by Colonial Forge pitcher Lexi Markert–Sabando in Monday’s quarterfinals, and had to score an eighth-inning run on a close play at the plate to win, 1–0. They found Barker—the Commonwealth District’s player of the year with a faster pitch than Markert–Sabando—more to their liking.

“I think [Barker] is faster,” Broad Run coach Ed Steele said, “and we hit fast pitching pretty well.” Like Miller, when you throw her slow, slow, slow all the time, she hits it, but not like she can.

“Her timing is for faster pitching, and most of my kids aren’t intimidated by it.”

Miller, a Providence recruit, was the most impressive of a bunch of impressive hitters.

In four plate appearances, she saw eight pitches—only one of which Barker managed to throw past her for a strike. She had singles in the first, fifth and sixth innings, and bounced a triple off the center field fence in the third.

Broad Run managed base runners in every inning but one.

In the first, the Spartans loaded the bases on back-to-back singles and a walk, and Amanda Pugh drove in two runs with a soft liner back up the middle.

Miller’s triple in the third plated another run.

And in the fifth, Miller’s single led off the inning, Madison Small reached on an error, and Pugh knocked in two more runs for a 5–0 advantage.

“They were a very good hitting team,” Barker said. “The strike zone was a little tight. I had to throw more stuff over the plate. That turned into them hitting it all the way out to the fence.”

Broad Run pitcher Ashley Ferrara wasn’t overpowering, but she was effective.

She walked just one batter, struck out two, and allowed a pair of harmless singles in the first six innings—one to Barker in the first and another to Jess Nowak in the third.

The Wolverines used two hits and an error to plate a pair of seventh-inning runs, but by then the damage had already been done.

Afterward, North Stafford gathered in right field for one last farewell—this Commonwealth District championship team was loaded with seniors whose careers are over, one win short of the state tournament bid they so desperately hoped for.

“I love this group of seniors and they have nothing to hang their heads about,” Kantor said. “Going 22-3 is something to be proud of. It just stinks to lose.”

    R H E

    North Stafford 0000 002 2 4 1

    Broad Run 2010 20x 5 8 1

    KELSIE BARKER and Beth Kelley. ASHLEY FERRARA and Kamille Larrabee.

Justin Rice: 540/368-5045

jrice@freelancestar.com

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