Madison struck quickly with two runs in the first inning last night against Robinson and then allowed a hobbled Lauren Frankiewicz to carry it to a 3-0 win in the semifinals of the Virginia AAA Northern Region softball tournament at Falls Church.
The victory earned the Warhawks (21-4) a berth in Friday's final against Oakton, which topped Hayfield, 1-0, in the other semifinal.
Madison beat Oakton in last year's region final. The Cougars returned the favor in the season opener in March, rallying for two runs in the bottom of the seventh against Frankiewicz.
"We're just glad we're going to get another shot at them," said Warhawks catcher Ashli Breau.
Frankiewicz turned her ankle in the first inning, but after some ice and a pep talk from Coach Tammi Talley, went back to the mound to toss her third consecutive shutout, striking out 11 while allowing two hits.
"I just told her the team was counting on her," Talley said. "And she went out and battled."
In the first inning, with one out, Madison senior Megan Wolfrey singled and Frankiewicz followed with a walk. One out later, freshman Heather Jones dropped a fly ball in front of the right fielder, who misplayed the hop, resulting in two runs.
Madison added an insurance run in the fourth when Breau dropped a ball into right that eluded the outfielder for a triple. Breau scored when the relay throw to third was offline.
The Rams put the first two batters on base in the second, fourth and seventh innings. In the second, Frankiewicz struck out the next three batters. In the fourth, she retired the Rams' top power hitter, Taylor Cunningham, on a deep fly to right. She then struck out Nikki Cutrona and threw out Robinson's most experienced hitter, Emily Nolan, on a come-backer.
In the seventh, she recorded her 11th and 12th strikeouts and got a groundout.
In the first game, Cougars sophomore Jesse McCarrick pitched her third consecutive shutout, struck out 13 and allowed just two hits to help Oakton advance.
Cougars Coach Chris Jarboe said McCarrick worked with catcher Ciera Jones over the past week, scouting teams in person and online. Jarboe said Jones scripted notes of the Hayfield lineup on her leg to help call the shutout.
"I checked Hayfield out on Monday and then looked at their stats online to see who their best hitters were," said McCarrick, who improved to 13-5. "And like the coaches told me, I relaxed and had confidence."
Oakton scored quickly as Lizzie Pegnato opened the game with an opposite-field triple to right field. Four pitches later, Margie Marino's wild pitch allowed Pegnato to score.
Afterward, Marino calmed down to scatter seven hits as Oakton left runners on base while collecting six hits over the final three innings.
"I generally get stronger as the game goes on," said Marino, who won 13 games, leading the Hawks (20-6) to their first berth in the region semifinals since 1975.