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WCAC Softball

Carty Rediscovers Her Pitch Perfectly

O'Connell, with three seniors, four sophomores and five freshmen on the roster, celebrates its fifth straight WCAC title.
O'Connell, with three seniors, four sophomores and five freshmen on the roster, celebrates its fifth straight WCAC title. (By Kevin Clark -- The Washington Post)
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By Alan Goldenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 12, 2008

After playing the position for much of her childhood, Colleen Carty gave up on pitching about a year ago. The O'Connell senior couldn't see the point of practicing her pitches day after day, when she would only be used in spot duty against lesser opponents. Besides, she had become a very effective right fielder, with a strong enough bat to earn her a spot on James Madison's roster next season.

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"I said, 'I don't really need to do this anymore,' " Carty said, "So I stopped pitching. I didn't throw in the fall league last year. I didn't pitch in the winter."

But when tryouts began, O'Connell had no experienced pitchers aside from Carty. She said she took the ball in March and struggled to find home plate.

Yesterday, in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship game at Catholic University, Carty showed that no matter how much she tried, she couldn't shake her repertoire. She threw a perfect game, and also hit a pair of three-run doubles to lead the Knights to an 8-0 victory over No. 9 Paul VI for their fifth straight WCAC title and 12th overall since the league began playing softball in 1994.

Carty, who struck out nine and threw 50 of her 69 pitches for strikes, was firmly O'Connell's No. 2 pitcher the past two seasons behind All-Met Kelley Engman. Even with her travel team last summer and fall, Carty said she didn't throw one pitch. Perhaps that was why she recalled bouncing her pitches at the start of practice this spring.

"Everyone -- coaches, players -- was telling me, 'Oh my God, what are you doing?' " Carty said. Taking over for Engman "was big shoes to fill."

This was perhaps the best chance for the rest of the WCAC to end O'Connell's run of titles. The Knights had seven players graduate -- three of whom are starting this season for Division I programs -- and Carty was one of only three seniors this season.

By midseason, it sure looked like O'Connell (20-5) was headed back to the pack. The Knights' streak of 121 consecutive regular season WCAC victories ended with a 3-1 loss to Paul VI (21-3) on April 10. O'Connell lost two more league games, as well as two others outside the WCAC to give it five losses for the first time since going 18-5 in 1989.

"We were definitely concerned," senior third baseman Devon Metcalfe said. "It was a young, inexperienced team."

Carty struck out six of the first nine batters she faced yesterday, effectively hitting spots and controlling the plate. In the top of the third, following three walks, Carty lined a double into the left-field corner that cleared the bases to make it 3-0.

The next inning, after singles by Kelly Miller and Sarah Eidt and a walk to Metcalfe loaded the bases again, Carty emptied them with a lined double to the wall in right-center to make it 8-0.

"We lost a lot" from last season, Coach Tommy Orndorff said. "To expect this with five freshmen and four sophomores? Probably not. To do what they've done, it's amazing."

O'Connell 8, No. 9 Paul VI 0 No Teens Here: The victory gave O'Connell at least 20 victories for the 16th straight season. No Runs There: O'Connell didn't allow a run in the WCAC tournament, beating Holy Cross, 6-0, and St. Mary's Ryken, 7-0, in the preceding games. O'Connell 8, No. 9 Paul VI 0 No Teens Here: The victory gave O'Connell at least 20 victories for the 16th straight season. No Runs There: O'Connell didn't allow a run in the WCAC tournament, beating Holy Cross, 6-0, and St. Mary's Ryken, 7-0, in the preceding games.


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