By Owen Gotimer
Ashburn (May 14, 2016) — When she struck out to lead off the top of the second inning, Broad Run High School junior catcher Grace Mattimore knew she needed to take a deep breath. After all, softball is a game played one pitch at a time, one hit at a time. But her bloop double down the right field line in her next at-bat was more than just a hit: it was career hit No. 100.
“It’s huge. I’m really surprised. The other day I heard I had like five left, and I didn’t realize how big it was to hit 100,” Mattimore said. “The at-bat before I struck out, so I was so nervous, but then I went up the next time and realized it was just a hit.”
Mattimore added hit No. 101 in the fifth inning in the form of a three-RBI double, to help the Lady Spartans solidify their, 8-1, Conference 14 win over Ashburn-rival Briar Woods High School.
“I say she’s the most dominating player in this conference, but I’m prejudice,” Broad Run head coach Ed Steele said. “Against Stone Bridge, she went 2-for-2 and they walked her twice. Against Tuscarora, she had two hits and they walked her. Today, she had three hits. Anytime she’s up to bat, she’s dangerous. When the bases are loaded, she’s really dangerous. She starts a lot of fires.”
Mattimore contributed to the fire in the Lady Spartans’ five-run first inning with a simple single: career hit No. 99. Then junior first baseman McKenna Gallagher, senior third baseman Ellie Jessop and sophomore designated player Libby Griffis all added RBI singles as Broad Run was in motion on the way to closing out their Conference 14 schedule undefeated at 8-0.
“Going into playoffs we have to have a mentality that we’re 0-0: we’ve never won, we’ve never lost,” Mattimore said. “We can’t play like we’re undefeated in the conference.”
Broad Run has clinched the conference’s No. 1 seed and earned an automatic berth to the VHSL 5A North region against a slate of teams which has seen three of its schools play in seven different state championship games in the past decade.
“The thing is you don’t realize how good this conference is when you’re playing, you just know that it’s your competition,” Steele said. “When you get outside the conference you realize how strong this conference really is. Even in this game, Briar Woods has a lot of good players out there. It’s that way pretty much up and down the conference. There are no pushovers: none.”
The Lady Falcons certainly didn’t go down without a fight. Briar Woods sophomore pitcher Macie Scott allowed just three runs – all unearned – after the first inning. Senior catcher Alexa Binckes added a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth, but the long ball failed to spark a Briar Woods’ rally. Senior centerfielder Meghan Bradshaw added two hits including a one-out double in the fifth that the Lady Falcons couldn’t capitalize on.
Briar Woods also had contributions from three substitutes – sophomore Cayla Kumpf and freshmen Abby Arabia and Caitlin Nee – who combined to go 3-for-3 at the plate.
Broad Run had contributions up and down their line up combining for 15 hits. The Lady Spartans also got a solid outing out of senior pitcher Meghan McCormack who threw six innings allowing just one run.
“Grace is definitely a dominant player, but it’s not just Grace. Meghan is undefeated. Our centerfielder Lauren [Enstrom] is a freshman, and she’s made some spectacular catches, probably batting around .400, just a solid contributor, but she’s not flashy. She’s not Grace-dominating, but she’s the glue that makes everything run,” Steele said. “That’s how we’ve been all year; everybody’s chipped in. You can just go around and say it’s your turn to be the hero or your turn or your turn.”
Broad Run will need that type of steady support if they hope to make a deep postseason run this spring. The Lady Spartans first test will be on Tuesday, May 17 when they host a Conference 14 semifinal against the winner of No. 5 Potomac Falls at No. 4 Tuscarora. The No. 3 Lady Falcons will travel to No. 2 Stone Bridge on May 17 to play in the other conference semifinal.
“We’ve been expecting a lot of competition and from day one of conference play we have faced the toughest teams,” Mattimore said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Kramer 3-5, 2 R, RBI
Cassidy 0-3, K
Mattimore 3-5, 2 2B, R, 3 RBI, K
Gallagher 2-2, 2B, R, RBI, SB
Enstrom 0-3, K
Jessop 2-4, R, RBI
Griffis 3-4, ROE, R, RBI
Bencic 1-4, R
O’Brien 1-3, BB, RBI, R, K
Caras 0-1, BB, K
Gay 0-1, K
Bradshaw 2-4, 2B
Binckes 1-4, HR, R, RBI
Whaley 1-3, K
Nee, A. 1-3, 2B
Healy 0-2, K
Nee, C. 1-1
McCormack W 6 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 7 H, 0 BB, 2 K
Griffis 1 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 0 K
Scott L 7 IP, 8 R, 5 ER, 15 H, 2 BB, 5 K