Northwest ends Sherwood’s streak

Stubborn Northwest ends Sherwood’s 105 game softball winning streak

NW vs. Sherwood softball 3-25-17 2Ecstatic Northwest players embrace each other after dethroning Sherwood - a team that had established a record setting 105 game win streak.   PHOTO BY MARK POETKER  

SANDY SPRING—A giant has fallen, as the Northwest Jaguars varsity girls softball team (3-0) slayed the Sherwood Warriors (2-1) and their 105-game winning streak on Saturday afternoon at Sherwood High School, 9-5.

“Oh my God,” said Jaguars head coach Mike Horton in his postgame speech to his team. “You just have just turned the MoCo softball world on its head. It’s on its head. Their streak is over…What a day, girls. I will remember this for the rest of my life.”

The streak at 105 games will rank as the third longest streak nationwide in the history of high school softball. “Everybody’s upset,” said Warriors head coach Ashley Barber-Strunk of the loss. “…It’s not about this team. It’s not about this year. It’s about everything from the past. Everybody who’s put working into this program. Every athlete who been in this program and gone through this program. So, it’s for them as well. It’s not just about us. It’s about everybody.”  

“That’s the best game I’ve been a part of,” said Jaguars junior shortstop Karlie Stanford. “We stayed up the entire time.”

Senior catcher Alexa Bowen added, “This is the best thing that has happened to me in so long. I’ve been dreaming-- like ever since I’d been a freshman--everyone talks about Sherwood and I’ve always wanted to beat them. And I’m so happy I can’t express how happy I am. And it’s amazing.”

Keying the win for the Jaguars were two freshmen: first base player Kaylah Quassis (3-3, 2 runs, 3 RBI, HR) and pitcher Amber Yuilla, who limited the Warriors to 5 runs.

It looked like it would be the Jaguars’ day right out of the box, as three Warriors errors keyed three runs in the top of the first inning. Quassis who came up to bat with the bases loaded, proceeded to hit a grounder to Warriors senior third base player Amber Glasser. What initially looked like a possible third out, resulted in a three-run throwing error, giving the Jaguars a 3-0 lead.

The Jaguars would never lose the lead, staying ahead on the scoreboard. Up 8-2 in the bottom of the sixth, the Warriors staged a late game rally, plating three runs on a two out, two RBI single from senior pitcher Amanda Berkley (1-4, 1 run, 2 RBIs, BB, 2 SBs) and a two-out RBI double from freshman centerfielder Madison Wessling (1-4, RBI, double) yet it was too little, too late. 

Other scoring included, in the top of the fourth, the Jaguars got two runs on a hit by Stanford to take a 5-2 lead. And, in the top of the fifth, the Jaguars expanded their lead to 7-2 on Quassis’ two RBI single. But Quassis, the star of the Jaguars offense, was not done yet as she led off the top of the seventh with a home run to centerfield to give the Jaguars their 9-5 final. 

“Having 5 to 6 errors. And only 1 or 2 earned runs”, said Barber-Strunk about her team’s play on the afternoon. “We couldn’t make the team plays. That’s all…To not be able to hit the ball when we needed to. We did everything we could but we just could not execute the routine plays.”

The four-time repeat state champions Warriors have seven freshmen and lost five 2016 senior starters. Yet for Barber-Strunk, this is unchartered territory: her first loss since taking the reins of the Warriors coaching position four seasons ago.

“That’s what we got to focus on. Most people will say ‘oh, how do we feel about the loss?’ It’s not about the loss. It’s about the amazing things. That’s the third best-ever record in the nation,” said Barber-Strunk. “Ever since they won the States the first year (2012), before I was the head coach, each team came out to beat us. They played their best.”

Barber-Strunk added, “You know, some days you have bad days, some days you have good days, but each team every time they came to play us they brought their game because, every year, since we won states, each team, their goal was to beat us. And, if they beat us, that was their states. You saw the enthusiasm here. It’s just not winning a game. You would have thought they had just won states. That’s every team’s goal. So, we made it that…I think that says a lot about the program, that each team comes out and some teams when they get hit off of us, they thought they’d won the game. That makes a positive statement.”

Jaguars junior second base player Chloe Hickman summed the historic victory, saying, “I would just like to say that this proves what we can do as a team if we are all working for the same thing. And if our hearts are all in it. We can go further than this. This is who we are and this is how every game should be.”

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