Severna Park captures Class 4A softball state championship

COLLEGE PARK — Severna Park softball coach Meredith McAlister lost a state championship game as a player, won one as an assistant coach, and now has a state title as a head coach.

With players like Maryland commit Campbell Kline, first baseman Jessie Smith, pitcher Marissa Heuer and a strong supporting cast, it’s hard not to be a champion.

The Falcons scored five runs in the third and eight more in the fourth to defeat defending champion Northwest, 13-0, in 4 ½ innings on Saturday to win the Class 4A state title at Maryland Softball Stadium.

The 13-run margin of victory is largest in Class 4A history and ties Class 1A North Caroline’s mark from back in 2005 when it won 15-2.

“This feels pretty good, now that it is over,” said McAlister, whose team outscored their opponents, 41-1 throughout the state tournament. “It’s been pretty stressful, but honestly, this crew of young women is very calm. We talked all season about not needing to do any more than what we’ve done every day, day in and day out. They just needed to do what the team needs. We didn’t need any heroes. Each player knew what their role was and just do it well and that is what we went out and did today.”

Kline, who’s only a junior, belted two triples, walked twice, scored twice and drove in three to lead the 13-hit attack. Smith scored twice and drove in two runs and Kylie Dingess went 2 for 4 with two runs scored for Severna Park (25-2).

“Every single person on this team deserves this. Everybody worked extremely hard during the season and we worked very hard to get where we are,” said Kline, who extended her record of hits in a season with her triples. “I just couldn’t be prouder of my teammates. This feeling is just unreal. I don’t think it has quite hit me just yet.”

Heuer, meanwhile, allowed just two hits and struck out five to earn the victory in her final game in a Falcons’ uniform.

“I just can not believe this. It is the best way to end my senior season,” said Heuer, who added a two-run single in the fourth to plate the 12th and 13th runs. “This was such a great opportunity to play here. It was so unbelievable. Our bats came out today. One inning we got seven hits and sent 11 batters to the plate. Then the next we sent 13 batters up. To win 13-0 in five innings, against the defending state champions is amazing. I’m just so unbelievably proud of everyone on the team and all the coaches.”

Emily Summers and Madison Gerard each had two hits and Emma Hall, Abby Becker and Emily Gabbard had hits. In fact, every member of the Falcons’ lineup recorded at least one hit and all but one scored a run.

The Falcons took control in the bottom of the third. Gerard led off with a double and Gabbard followed with a single. Self-made switch-hitter Kline laced a stand-up triple to left-center to score both runners for a 2-0 Severna Park lead. Smith made it 3-0 with an RBI single to score Kline, still with nobody out. Summers scored Smith with a bloop base hit to right and Gerard’s infield single scored Dingess, who had reached on an infield hit, to give the Falcolns a 5-0 lead.

The Falcons poured it on in their half of the fourth. Kline started things off with another triple, this time to right-center field and would score on Smith’s fielder’s choice. Dingess reached on an error and Hall’s single loaded the bases. Becker singled to score Smith to make it 7-0. Heuer capped the onslaught with a two-run single that scored Gerard and Gabbard to make it 13-0 after four innings.

The rest was left to Heuer and the Falcons’ defense. The first out was Heuer’s, who struck out the No. 9 hitter. The Northwest lead-off hitter, Chloe Hickman, who started the game with a base hit and made a couple outstanding plays in the field, lined a shot to left that Gabbard snared for the second out. Then, Karlie Stanford, who owned a double in the third, sent a weak grounder Smith’s way, and the Falcons’ senior tagged her out to start the Severna Park victory celebration.

“I really don’t think this has hit me yet. I’ve never played with a group of girls that have as much so much humility and are so dedicated. This team deserved this win so much,” Smith said. “Every player wants to make it this far and it’s always in the back of your mind. Now that it is over, I’m just so happy and proud for this team.

The Jaguars made Heuer work hard every inning, but the 21-game winner used 13 first-pitch strikes to get ahead of the Northwest hitters. She threw a total of 82 pitches over the five innings, with 50 being strikes.

“Marissa puts the ball wherever I ask her to. And she doesn’t question it and just does it,” said McAlister, who graduates just four players from this year’s team in Becker, Heuer, Smith and Summers. “Plus, she believes in her defense behind her, and that has motivated her. She’s worked so hard all four years, especially after tearing her ACL her sophomore year. I can’t wait to see what she is going to do in college.”

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
90°