As simple as it might sound, Westfield's softball players continue simply giving first-year coach Dean Ferington what he asks for: a win. The Bulldogs took advantage of several Langley errors in yesterday's Virginia AAA Northern Region softball semifinal at Falls Church and surprised the Saxons, 2-1.
Westfield (16-6) will face two-time defending champion Madison in the final, set for 1 p.m. Friday at Falls Church. Both Westfield and Madison earned spots in next week's state tournament.
Ferington had complained midseason that his team wasn't hitting well.
"That's changed. We are hitting, and now we're hitting with authority," said Ferington, who had coached Langley to four state tournament berths during the 1990s. "The girls are listening, and there is not much more I can ask for from them. Every year, my goal as a coach is to get my team to the state tournament. Why should I lower my expectations, even for a young team like this one?"
Langley (21-5) struggled to build any kind of a rally off Bulldogs starting pitcher Linda Pirro, who allowed two hits through six innings. But in the seventh, the Saxons, who scored 26 runs in their first two regional games, loaded the bases with one out. Angie Ortiz then delivered a run-scoring single to center field, but on the play, Pirro cut off the throw from the outfield and fired to third baseman Anna Munizza to pick off a Langley base runner. Pirro then induced a fly out to end the game.
Westfield scored single unearned runs in the third and fifth innings. In the fifth, Lindsay Dutton, one of three seniors on Westfield's roster, eluded a tag by the catcher to score on a fielder's choice grounder.
"We've really picked up our hitting in the postseason," said Dutton, whose team had six hits and struck out only three times. "We've been working on it all season, learning first what pitch to look for and then how to hit it. The key is selecting the right pitch to hit."
Madison continued its offensive assault, scoring twice in the first inning and twice in the third on the way to a 5-0 victory over Robinson in the second semifinal.
The Warhawks finished with 11 hits, three by senior starting pitcher Lauren Frankiewicz, who also struck out nine and allowed four hits. Frankiewicz is 6 for her last 7 at the plate, including a solo home run last night.
Senior teammate outfielder Kyle Noro contributed two hits and an RBI.
"We were psyched all day for this game," Noro said. "For us, this was the championship. Winning tonight gets us to the state tournament. Our goal all season has been to win the state title."
Robinson, which lost to Madison in last year's region semifinals, moved a runner to third base just once. Lindsay Hall doubled to open the fifth and moved up on a groundout, but did not score. Robinson dropped to 18-6.
The Warhawks (23-3) have won 13 games in a row, and Frankiewicz has allowed just one run in the past 11 games. Madison will be aiming for its 11th region crown on Friday.