Talk about making a big impact, and in a couple of ways.
With a 3-0 record during the second day’s championship round, the Arlington Impact National girls softball team, including players who contributed significantly from the McLean and Vienna areas, won the 18-under division of the recent First Responders Cup Tournament, played at Barcroft Park. In doing so, the Impact became the first team from Arlington to win a title, at any age division, in the 20-year history of the competition, which began in 2002.
The impact won the crown despite having a 1-2 record (two one-run losses) during the first day of pool-play contests.
“It was a lot of fun. The girls kept fighting and fighting and scoring runs, and we got out of a lot of jams,” Impact coach Doug Kaufman said.
Kaufman explained that the competition was tough, making the championship even more satisfying for the players.
“It was a big deal and awesome for them to win this,” he said.
The annual September competition is always held in Arlington, this year played on the fields at Barcroft Park, with three age groups and some 20 teams participating. The tournament began to honor local first-responders to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack. Proceeds raised from the tournament are donated to Pentagon Disaster Relief charities.
In the championship game, the Impact defeated the Tri-State Thunder Gold, 5-2, with strong pitching from Abby Kohan and Torrie McNabb of Marshall High School. Molly Kaufman, Kayla Carr and Piper Tedrow of McLean High School each had multiple hits.
Haley Greer drove in two runs and threw out a runner stealing, and M.J. Patil drove in one run. Clare Fortier, Emily Reagan and Kohan also had strong defensive plays, helping to end several potential rallies.
In the semifinals, the Impact rallied from a 4-1 deficit to defeat the Glory, 6-5, in an extra-inning, nine-frame contest that lasted two-and-a-half hours.
Consecutive hits by Kaufman, Kohan and McNabb started the rally, with Carr and Fortier driving in the tying runs. In extra innings, Abby Viggiano made a game-saving diving catch in left field in the bottom of the eighth with two outs and the potential winning run on third.
In the ninth, Carr doubled in two runs to give Impact the lead. Then in the last of the ninth, Fortier threw out the winning run at home on an infield hit, followed by McNabb recording the final out on a grounder to Kohan at third.
In the quarterfinals, the Impact trailed the Stars National Select, 1-0, until Carr delivered a bases-loaded three-run triple and Patil drove in another run, giving the Impact the 4-1 victory. Defensively, Tedrow threw out two runners at home from the outfield.
“They showed such fight coming back in the first two games, and they never got rattled,” Kaufman said. “They escaped four critical situations with the winning run on third and less than two out, and got outs of it every time. And that all starts with the incredible poise and toughness of our pitchers Abby and Torrie.”
After that long semifinal game, Kaufman wasn’t sure how much energy the Impact would have left for the final.
“They are such incredible competitors, they just grind it out every single play,” he said. “They are all such good friends and they love the team experience of playing for the Impact.”
Livy Fried (injured) and Erika Castellano (recruiting trip) are other members of the team who did not play in the tournament. Castellano played for Potomac School of McLean duirng the 2021 high-school season.
NOTES: Fortier will play college softball at the University of Chicago, Carr at Ursinus College, Reagan at Penn State Brandywine and Kohan at Dickinson College. Others waiting to make final college decisions to play college softball are Molly Kaufman, Tedrow and Viggiano. Kaufman (all-district catcher) and Kohan (all-district pitcher) were standout players for the Yorktown and Wakefield high-school teams, respectively, during the spring . . . The other tournament champions were the Maryland InteGRITy in the 12-under division and the Virginia Glory Norton in the 14-under group.