Use all the typical adjectives and phrases – thrilling, suspenseful, dramatic, exciting, action-packed, nail-biting. They all apply to describe McLean Little League’s high-scoring City Series girls softball championship game.
The top seed and regular-season champion Keep Smiling-Dr. Hinkle Smilies team (9-1-1) won the seesaw Majors-level contest, 14-12, behind 17 hits the night of July 29 over the MLS Tutor Pirates, who amassed 13 hits. The two combined for nine extra-base hits.
The victory gave the Smilies an eight-game unbeaten streak to end the season. The City Series tournament title was the Smilies’ second in a row.
“It was a wild and crazy game,” Smilies manager Jamie Loving said. “Both teams hit the ball great.”
The game, which had three lead changes and one tie, was played on field No. 1 at the league’s Westmoreland street complex.
The meeting was the fourth between the squads in the shortened and altered summer campaign. The Smilies won twice, the Pirates, managed by Gerry Megas, once and there was one tie. All were close finishes.
“That’s the way these games always are with Gerry’s teams,” Loving said.
In the City Series final, the Pirates took a 7-3 lead in the third inning, then the Smilies rallied and were ahead for good after the fourth. Smilies’ relief pitcher Nora May worked the final two innings of scoreless and hitless ball with five strikeouts. Jennifer Neigel started and worked four innings with five strikeouts.
“Nora had only two innings of eligibility left, so that was the plan to use her late,” Loving said. “She throws hard and she was really on.”
Leading the hitting for the Smilies was Lucy Griepentrog with three hits, including a homer, and two RBI. Johanna Hostetler had three hits, two RBI and three steals; May had two hits, including a triple, with two RBI; Julia Markowitz added two hits and as many RBI; Emily Reuther had two hits and two RBI; Mackenzie Taylor added two hits and Neigel had two hits and two RBI.
Other contributors for the Smilies were Megan Connery, Morgan Hueber, Karah Johnson, Marley Petersen and Saoirse Sigler.
For the Pirates, Avery Prendergast homered and had two hits and four RBI and two steals. Lindsey Manifor doubled twice and had three RBI; Lilah Hoffman had two hits and two RBI; and Adeleine Wolff and Tess Emanuel each had two hits and one RBI. Paris Tran worked all five innings on the mound with five Ks.
“It was a crazy game,” Megas said. “There was a lot of hitting and we needed to catch a few more fly balls.”
Other contributors for the Pirates were Lucie Touomou, Kaelynn Thomas, Leyton Mayrhofer, Chloe Harrington, Allison Haag, Melody Hadden, Ava DiPietro and Layton Manifor.
The Smilies were 2-0 in the City Series and the Pirates 1-1.
NOTES: This season was the first time in seven years that the regular-season champion also won the City Series tournament . . . Loving and Megas’ teams have won multiple City Series titles over the years . . . Dr. Hinkle, first Alan and now his son, Andrew, have sponsored the Smilies for more than 20 years in McLean Little League. Andrew played in the league, as did his brother, Greg, and sister, Kate, who was on the original Smilies team in 1996.