LINKS
2018-06-13 / News

Lancers defy expectations, but drop state final, 9-0

BY BEN ORCUTT CONTRIBUTING WRITER


After a remarkable season, Manchester’s girls softball team ran into a juggernaut, James Madison High, on Saturday in the Group 6A state championship. 
ASH DANIEL After a remarkable season, Manchester’s girls softball team ran into a juggernaut, James Madison High, on Saturday in the Group 6A state championship. ASH DANIEL Manchester’s spectacular 2018 softball season ended Saturday with a 9-0 loss to

James Madison in the Group 6A state championship at Glen Allen High School.

The Lancers completed the season with a record of 20-4. It was Manchester’s first return to the state final since 1996, when the school captured the state championship under coach Lynn Gilbert.

The Lancers’ first-year coach, Jessica Sullivan, a 2007 graduate of Manchester who played for Gilbert, said this year’s team exceeded all expectations.

“I am incredibly proud of these girls,” Sullivan said following Saturday’s contest. “They really stepped up. They came together. They played on a level that we dreamed of and they really got it done. Even though we didn’t win, they all just blew my expectations out of the water. It’s tough to get behind and have to come from behind. The team we just faced is No. 2 in the nation. We did the best we could.” The visiting Warhawks put five runs on the board in the top of the first inning. James Madison added a sixth run in the top of the second on a walk, a wild pitch, a passed ball and a single.

The teams held each other at bay until the top of the seventh inning when the Warhawks added three runs with a two-run homer by senior hurler Alex Echazarreta, who also pitched a no-hitter to close out the Lancers’ season.

“I had to do it because this is my last high school at bat and then of course it’s a good way to end the season,” said Echazarreta, who will attend Purdue in the fall on a softball scholarship.

The Warhawks finished the 2018 campaign with a 28-0 mark after winning the state title last year with a 28-1 record. Their winning streak stands at 42.

“We never thought we’d go undefeated,” Echazarreta said. “To go undefeated just means the world to me.”

Echazarreta’s no-hitter appeared to be in doubt when Manchester senior third baseman Kaitlyn Cottingham hit a sinking line drive to center field. However, James Madison center fielder Emily Klingaman, who will play for Stanford next year, made a diving catch just before the ball hit the ground to seal the no-hitter and the school’s second consecutive state title.

Despite the loss, Manchester senior left fielder Gabrielle Turner said 2018 was a special season.

“We really came together,” Turner said. “Our motto is ‘family,’ so we came together as a family. Those five runs, they didn’t mean anything to us. We didn’t let it stop us. We were here and we were ready to play.”

Cottingham said the team came a long way this year.

“I started playing varsity my freshman year and I was the starting third baseman,” she said. “We didn’t even make it past the first regional game all three years, so to make it to states is just sweet in itself. We didn’t even have to win. It was just amazing in itself.” ¦

Return to top