By Dan Clendaniel
For the Potomac News & Manassas JournalMessenger
DALE CITY — Gar-Field pitcher Shannon Massie had some adjusting to do in the first inning. She was having trouble gripping the ball and then discovered that, according to the plate umpire, the outside corner that normally gets a lot of “strike” calls belonged to the hitters.
Massie survived the first inning against Osbourn Park, found her pitching rhythm, and went on to record a 2-0 shutout to improve her record to 4-1.
Massie struck out the last batter she faced in the seventh inning, Yellow Jacket pinch hitter Danielle Weaver. Interestingly, it was Massie’s only strikeout during her three-hit, two-walk scoreless performance.
“The umpire had no outside corner,” said Massie, who showed some frustration with calls in the first inning. “After that, I had to improvise.”
In the later innings, Massie held the Jacket bats in check by pitching more on the inside. Even though her strikeout count was low, she was getting lots of help from the defense behind her.
“The routine plays will win more games than the oustanding plays,” said Massie. “I’m really proud of our defense. Everyone on the team contributed something to this game.”
Osbourn Park opened the game by getting baserunners to second and third. But with two outs, Massie induced Kim Solorczyk to fly out to Catherine Jennings in right field to end Osbourn Park’s best threat.
Massie’s best effort came in the middle innings, as she retired 14 straight batters until opposing pitcher Alysha Demarest singled with two outs in the last inning for her second hit of the game.
During that string of 14 consecutive outs, Massie threw just 29 pitches.
“I wasn’t thinking about striking people out,” Massie noted. “If I can get them to hit a couple of groundouts on one or two pitches, it’s better because I don’t have work as hard trying to strike people out.”
Gar-Field got both of its runs in the first inning against Demarest, Osbourn Park’s freshman hurler. Sarah Malene singled and reached third base with out out when Sam Posey flied out to Erin Myers in medium center field. When Malene bluffed tagging up from third base, Myers threw wildly to the plate, allowing Malene to score what turned out to be the winning run.
“I was trying to make her (Myers) throw it,” said Malene. “When she did, I then stopped to look for an overthrow.”
Both teams have just returned from a tournament in Myrtle Beach. Gar-Field (8-4) went 4-1 and finished third overall during the week in South Carolina and Coach Mike McDonald is looking for his team to use that performance and the OP win as a springboard for the rest of the season.
“We’ve been a roller-coaster team,” said McDonald. “Today, we played seven good innings, just like we did at the beach against Osbourn (in a 2-1 loss). We need to maintain focus throughout seven innings.”
Osbourn Park dropped to 8-4. Coach Willie Lemay said the four losses have all lacked the same key ingredient — the big hit with runners on base.
“That’s been the story of our losses,” said Lemay. “After the game, we talked about the good plays on defense, but we just didn’t get the key hits.”