Shore softball sits atop Centennial standings entering final week

CHESTERTOWN — A doubleheader split with Gettysburg on Saturday may have been enough for Washington to secure the top seed and home field for the Centennial Conference softball tournament that starts next week.

Washington (19-14-1) is 10-4 in the conference, with only two CC games remaining — a twin bill this weekend at Dickinson.

Defending conference champion Swarthmore (20-8), the coaches’ preseason pick to repeat, is second at 8-4 with four conference games remaining. (Washington and Swarthmore split a doubleheader at Swarthmore on April 13.)

Gettysburg (20-10), Ursinus (15-19) and Dickinson (10-17) also are in the mix at 7-5. Each has four conference games to be played this week.

Five schools qualify for the tournament.

The No. 4 seed will host the No. 5 seed in a single-elimination play-in game on April 30, before the tournament shifts to a double-elimination format.

The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds will host first-round games on May 2, with the remainder of the tournament shifting to the No. 1 seed on the weekend of May 4-5.

Saturday was the final regular-season home date for conference games for Washington, which honored its seniors before the first pitch.

The Shore ladies won the opener, 6-2, and the Bullets took the nightcap, 6-1.

Gettysburg scored all six of its runs in game two in the final three innings, while Washington rallied with six runs in its final three at-bats in game one for the win.

Jenna Harper’s leadoff double in the last of the fourth put the Shore ladies on the comeback express in the lid-lifter. Maddy Kendall’s two-out single to right field scored Nevaeh Unzueta (reached on an error) with the go-ahead run.

Washington scored three insurance runs in the last of the sixth courtesy of Julia Weglarz’s fielder’s choice, a bases-loaded walk to Harper and Lilly Cook’s single to left field.

Senior Lexi Barnhart (8-6) pitched a three-hit complete game. Her line included seven strikeouts, six walks and two hit batters. After giving up two runs in the first inning, Barnhart allowed just seven base-runners the rest of the way

Senior Hannah Solge (two walks) went 2-for-2 for Washington, which finished with 10 hits.

After Harper led off the fourth with an extra-base hit, Barnhart helped her own cause with an infield single to put runners at the corners. Gracelyn Goforth’s RBI groundout made it 2-1 before a two-out error and back-to-back singles gave Washington a 3-2 lead.

The second game was scoreless through four innings.

Gettysburg’s Lily Mader led off the fifth with an infield single before an error on a bunt attempt put two runners on. After a fielder’s choice on a second straight bunt erased the runner at third, Julia Smith singled to load the bases. A two-out Allegra DeCandia single through the right side scored two runs.

A Mader double with two away followed by a Morgan DeFreitas pinch hit single stretched the spread to 3-0 in the sixth.

Washington closed to 3-1 in the home half of the inning on Cook’s two-out single to center field that brought home Solge, who drew a leadoff walk and advanced on a wild pitch.

DeCandia was hit by a pitch to start the Gettysburg seventh, before an error and Lauren O’Leary’s three-run home run set the final margin. This was O’Leary’s team-leading fourth homer of the season.

Mader and Smith, the Bullets’ center fielder and Queen Anne’s County High School graduate, each had three hits. 

Left-hander Paige Forry, who took the loss in game one, went all seven innings in game two to improve to 8-5. She scattered three hits and three walks, while striking out three.

On the day, Forry, the 2023 conference pitcher of the year, threw a total of 12 1/3 innings with eight strikeouts.

Brynn Balliet (9-6) took the loss. She pitched into the seventh without getting an out before being spelled by Emmie Meeks, who inherited two base runners.

NOTES: Jenna Harper (.392) has hit safely in 12 straight games. 

First baseman Maddy Kendall of Galena, a Kent County High School graduate, has appeared in 23 games with 10 starts. She’s a junior who will graduate a year early.

Washington closes out its home slate Thursday, April 25 with a non-conference doubleheader against  No. 1-ranked Salisbury (26-1). 

The Sea Gulls are coached by Lacey Lister Lord, who spent 12 seasons in Chestertown and led the Shore ladies to a Centennial Conference championship in 2013.

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