The fence bordering the outfield at Jefferson’s softball grounds stands about six feet tall, capable of keeping opposing home run shots in play.
The barrier took a beating on Tuesday, when No. 9 McLean struck pitches over and off of the structure in a 13-1 Virginia AAA Liberty District win. Sophomore third baseman Erin Calpin hit the lone home run, and the Highlanders (9-1, 4-1) racked up 16 hits, showcasing power throughout the lineup.
“All of us can hit,” senior catcher Maddie Moore said. “If one person is not having a good game, then the next person is going to pick them up. I’m never worried about us scoring runs, because I know all of us have power.”
McLean will look to a lineup stocked with hitters and a pitching staff that has not allowed more than five runs in a single game to upset the balance of power in the district.
Third-ranked Stone Bridge dealt the Highlanders their only loss in a March 22 meeting in which McLean compiled a season-low seven hits. McLean split the series with the Bulldogs last year, but Stone Bridge won the district.
The Highlanders have the opportunity to create seperation as an area power with upcoming district contests against Madison and Langley. No. 2 O’Connell is on the schedule, and the rematch with Stone Bridge is set for April 23.
“We need to start beating our rivals,” Coach Maurice Tawil said.
For McLean to do that, Tawil will lean on senior leaders like Moore, whom he calls “probably our best hitter,” and battery mate Lauryn Hahne. Both players were freshmen on the 2010 squad that captured a Virginia AAA championship.
Hahne is one of four Highlanders with at least one home run this season. She leads the team with 36 strikeouts and credits synergy with Moore for part of her success.
“I trust her to know where my pitches are going to go,” Hahne said. “My drops usually go in the dirt, and I can trust her to block those because she’s seen those for so long.”
The two maintain a 10-year friendship that started in little league softball. They share an identical approach to calling pitches, and disagreements are easily mended when they don’t.
Including Hahne and Moore, McLean has five players on the roster with double digit RBIs. Both seniors said they have high expectations after a successful spring break at the Grand Strand Softball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
McLean strung together five straight victories and won its bracket. All 15 girls crammed into three bedrooms of a rental house and came out bonded stronger than ever.
As a senior who contributed to a state championship in 2010 — and an undefeated district run and a Virginia Northern Region title in 2011 — Hahne has the perspective to see that camaraderie is but one element in the recipe for a championship team.
“My freshman year we won states, and I didn’t see what all went in to it,” she said. “I know from previous years that we can do anything we can set our minds to.”
Northern has beaten its first eight opponents by a combined score of 61-0. . . . O’Connell was scheduled to visit Stone Bridge on Wednesday. . . . Defending Virginia AA champ Woodgrove has won six straight games — all against Dulles District opponents — after dropping its season opener to Musselman (W.Va.).
1. Northern (8-0) LW: 1
2. O’Connell (9-0) LW: 2
3. Stone Bridge (8-0) LW: 3
4. Sherwood (5-0) LW: 4
5. Glenelg (8-0) LW: 6
6. Woodgrove (6-1) LW: 8
7. Lake Braddock (7-0) LW: 9
8. South County (7-1) LW: 5
9. McLean (9-1) LW: NR
10. River Hill (5-0) LW: NR
Dropped out: No. 7 Loudoun County, No. 10 Mount Hebron
Bubble: La Plata (5-0), Briar Woods (6-3), National Cathedral (4-0)