The Vienna Shamrocks have every right to wonder if their 3-2 loss to Tradition of Wallingford, Conn., yesterday could have been a victory.
They have good reason to imagine they would have won the Pony 19-and-under national championship if just one play had been different.
The question is, which play?
Was it Maura Green's fifth-inning fly ball off the glove of Tradition shortstop Heather Brousseau that was ruled foul when the Shamrocks thought it was fair? Or was it one of the game's final two at-bats, a fielder's choice and strikeout that ended a potential game-tying rally with Renee Oursler (Northern High/University of South Florida) stranded at third? Or maybe one of the fielding misplays in Tradition's three-run first inning?
Shamrocks Coach Tommy Orndorff wondered about the fly ball that was called foul.
"I thought the ball was fair," he said. "If one call goes our way. . . . But that's how games are supposed to be when you have these types of teams."
Catcher Annie Dell'Aria (O'Connell) looked back at the first inning--in which she described her team's play as "kind of loose"--with a dash of regret. It seemed as though her team did the same.
The Shamrocks (55-10-2) were listless after falling behind, advancing only one of the next 13 batters into scoring position. (That batter, Oursler, doubled and scored on a single by Oakton alum Tiffany Bolton who now attends Ohio University.)
Dell'Aria ended the daze when she opened the fifth inning with a home run over the center field fence.
"I got all of it," Dell'Aria said. "I knew it was gone when I hit it."
Dell'Aria tried to stay calm on the home run trot but she burst into a smile as she rounded second, and her team immediately woke up. Jill Bumler (O'Connell/Virginia) followed the homer with a single, then Oursler hit into a fielder's choice and Bolton walked, but the Shamrocks were unable to score.
The Shamrocks threatened two innings later, but again failed to tie the score.
Tradition ended its season with a 49-1 record. Of Tradition's nine wins in this tournament six came in extra innings, including a tournament-opening 5-1 win over the Shamrocks.
The Shamrocks can take some consolation in the fact that they were an 18-and-under team playing in a 19-and-under tournament.
In the third-place game, the Maryland Legends fell to the Orange Town Cardinals, 7-1.