After pitching 10 innings in 90-degree heat, Morgan Maniglia stepped to the plate in the top of the 11th inning Monday with a chance to help herself finally get off the field.
The West Potomac senior crushed a two-out, two-strike home run to left field, then got the final three outs in the bottom of the 11th to lift West Potomac to a 3-1 win against Chantilly in the Virginia AAA Northern Region softball quarterfinals at Falls Church.
“In my head I was thinking it could be the last time I ever step into batter’s box and have it mean something,” Maniglia said. “That was pumping me up.”
Maniglia’s blast broke a deadlock that had stood since Chantilly first baseman Colleen O’Brien hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Chantilly had the winning run on base in every inning from the seventh through the 10th, but couldn’t scratch across another run.
“It was so hot I was feeling light-headed,” Maniglia said. “In the fifth inning I had to pour a whole water bottle on my head and I said ‘I don’t know how we’re going to finish this,’ but I just pulled some energy together.”
Chantilly pitcher Alex Sallberg was equally tough in her complete game effort.
The junior right-hander completely shut the West Potomac offense down from the second inning until Maniglia’s home run in the 11th.
Senior catcher Jasmine Picini gave West Potomac a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the top of the first inning, but that was the Wolverines’ last hit until the top of the sixth.
Sallberg retired 14 hitters in a row at one point even though she didn’t strike anybody out during that stretch, and finished the game allowing just six hits over the 11 innings.
“She has off-speed stuff and she pitched a lot of East-West,” West Potomac Coach Craig Maniglia said. “It caught them off-guard so everybody was either popping up or topping the ball.”
Chantilly, meantime, had at least one runner on base in every inning, but Maniglia continually pitched out of trouble and was helped by a stellar defense.
In earlier quarterfinals Monday at Falls Church, South County beat Robinson, 5-0, behind a one-hit shutout from pitcher Rebecca Martin, and Oakton beat Hayfield, 6-0, on the strength of a two-hit shutout from sophomore Allison Davis.
South County and Oakton will play the first semifinal at Madison on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m, immediately followed by West Potomac vs. Stone Bridge. The two semifinal winners will advance to the Virginia AAA state tournament scheduled to begin on Tuesday and will play in the Northern Region final on Friday.