By Jeremy Balan
In Academic Athletic Association softball’s recent history, there is no rivalry quite like the battle between Lowell and Washington.
The teams have met in the last three championship games, but Lowell got a leg up in this season’s title game and did so with an exclamation point, routing the Eagles 11-1 in five innings on Wednesday at San Francisco State University.
Leading the way was Lowell senior first baseman Chloe Roddy, who went 3-for-4 with five RBIs and two two-run home runs.
After striking out in the first inning, Roddy had a RBI double in the third to give the Cardinals (17-3) a 2-0 lead. Then in the fourth inning, on a 3-2 changeup, Roddy hit a liner over the left field wall to extend the lead to 8-0, and took the first pitch she saw in the fifth out of the ballpark on a towering blast to straightaway center field.
“Chloe is an anomaly and physically, her strength is unbelievable,” said Lowell head coach Sascha Taylor-Ray. “She said she felt it today and she was even asking me what the distances were on the fences at practice yesterday, so she could see what she had to do.”
The win for Lowell avenges a heart-breaking 4-3 loss to Washington (14-3) in last season’s championship game, ending what was an undefeated league season for the Cardinals.
“We’ve been working for this moment all season, because last year was such a tough loss for us and the two seniors that were on the team,” Taylor-Ray said. “All the girls wanted to do was hit, hit, hit in practice and I couldn’t say no. Right now, this just feels unbelievable.”
The Lowell lineup was potent from top to bottom and each batter reached base at least once. The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when freshman Gretel Gunther scored on a wild pitch, but the game was broken open in the third when they scored five runs, capped by a three-RBI triple by Gunther.
“Everything got started in the first inning and we kept on going through the whole game,” Roddy said. “When we get to the bottom of the lineup, we don’t feel like we’re giving up anything, because any of those girls can hit.”
While Roddy and Gunther were sparking the Lowell offense, junior pitcher Michelle Willis was mowing down Washington batters. Willis allowed seven runs in the Cardinals’ last meeting with Washington in the regular season, but she retired the first seven batters of the game on Wednesday and allowed just one unearned run on four hits.
“I can’t say enough about our pitcher,” Taylor-Ray said. “She had a hard time in the last Wash game and she was mentally prepared for this.”
While everything was clicking for the Cardinals, nothing seemed to go right for Washington.
Photos by Eric Soracco
The Eagles only advanced one runner past second base and had an error in each of the first four innings to extend Lowell rallies.
“They had the momentum today and we didn’t. It wasn’t our day,” said Washington head coach Carrie Wert. “We just couldn’t get anything started. In all elements of the game, things just weren’t going our way.”
Washington junior starting pitcher Alice Cen was effective when she got ahead in the count, but struggled with command and a patient Lowell lineup took advantage, extending counts and working seven walks.
“When we have a full count or two strikes, we don’t want to go up there and swing silly,” Taylor-Ray said. “The girls did that and they swung smart today and they all contributed, which is all I can ask for.”
The Cardinals won’t get much rest, as they will travel to Oakland to face Skyline in the first game of the Transbay Championship Thursday, but like the Cardinals did this season, Washington will be looking for a bit of redemption next year.
“We only have one starter leaving, so hopefully we’ll be right back here to take the crown back,” Wert said.
L – Gretel Gunther scores on a wild pitch
L – Chloe Roddy doubles, Michelle Willis scores
L – Angela Trinh singles, Samantha Yee scores
L – Gunther triples, Madison Donahue-Wolfe, Katie Tam and Trinh scores
L – Roddy homers, Willis scores
L – Abigail Young singles, Tam scores
W – Megan Chiem singles, Maggie Lam scores
L – Roddy homers, Willis scores
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