The bases were loaded with two out and the score tied against rival South County, and Rakowski dug in and showed a confidence that belied her limited experience.
“It was really intense so I just wanted to keep a positive mind-set,” Radowski said. “I really just wanted to hit the ball hard and see if it got through any place.”
Rakowski smacked an 0-1 pitch on the ground toward third that South County third baseman Caitlin Maglich snared with a diving grab. But as Maglich tried to get up and scrambled to tag Lake Braddock runner Lauren Schwartz coming into the base, Schwartz’s slide jarred the ball from Maglich’s glove and center fielder Jenna Edwards scored from third with the winning run.
The wild final play was a dramatic end to No. 6 Lake Braddock’s 3-2 extra-inning win, a victory that propelled the host Bruins into sole possession of first place in the Virginia AAA Patriot District.
“I thought I hit it hard and it was a great play,” Rakowski said “but once [Maglich] went down I thought the runner still might get in.”
Freshman left-hander Amanda Hendrix scattered 10 hits over a complete game effort to get the win for the Bruins (12-0, 7-0 Patriot District), who won their 12th straight game while snapping South County’s 11-game winning streak.
“This game tonight was one of the best regular season games I’ve ever seen in this district,” South County Coach Gary Dillow said. “It’s just going to make us all better come playoff time.”
South County sophomore right hander Rebecca Martin held Lake Braddock in check through the first five innings as the Stallions (11-2, 6-1) built an early 2-0 lead on an RBI single by first baseman Riley Wilkinson in the top of the second inning and an RBI double by catcher Haylea Geer in the top of the third.
Martin took a no-hitter into the fifth before she allowed an infield single on a softly hit ground ball, and Lake Braddock finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth when consecutive RBI triples by Hendrix and Edwards tied the game at 2-2.
“She did a very good job of keeping our hitters off balance,” Lake Braddock Coach George Rumore said of Martin. “We just had to be patient with her and hang in there.”
Lake Braddock had a golden chance to end the game in the bottom of the seventh inning when a leadoff walk and an error on an ensuing sacrifice bunt put the potential winning run on third with nobody out. But South County reliever Kyra Ketch got a lineout, strikeout and popout to extend the game.
After Hendrix pitched around a leadoff walk in the top of the eighth, Hendrix, Schwartz and second baseman Kat Plescow all walked to set up Rakowski.
The freshman didn’t get the ball through any place, but she ended Tuesday night the hero, anyway.