The Arundel softball team adapted a motto before the season to dream big, work hard and finish strong and they lived it on their way to 20 wins, including a strong finish in extra innings to down Leonardtown in the region final for their first region title since 1983.
Their reward was a state semifinal matchup with powerhouse Sherwood of Montgomery County, winners of five consecutive games and at one point 107 straight games before suffering a mid-season loss.
The experience of the Warriors showed as they jumped out to a three-run, first-inning lead and never looked back en route to a 12-0 win in five innings.
"They are a good team, well-coached and confident all the way through," Arundel coach Lisa Mills said.
Sherwood's depth in the lineup showed not so much in their pop but in their discipline as they worked a total of 10 walks for the game to constantly threaten Arundel's pitchers, Grace Palmieri, Caroline Mills and Madison Gentry.
Their patience was best exemplified in a fourth inning in which they scored a run off four walks and a hit by pitch.
"All three pitchers have been there for us all year," Mills said. "Today was tough for them, they weren't hitting their spots at all."
Sherwood broke the game open in the third inning when Hannah St. Laurent's bases-clearing double pushed the lead to 9-0.
The Wildcats got their first hit of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning when Caroline Mills ripped a line drive over the left fielder's head for a two-out double. Maddie Miller followed with a single up the middle but Mills was thrown out at the plate trying to score.
Though defeated, Lisa Mills is proud that the team came together and embraced their motto, and along the way, embraced themselves as a unit.
"This has been our best season so far as team chemistry," Mills said. "They really embodied that motto, they lived it. We had several walk-off wins, we had several come from behind wins. They have a lot of fight in them."
WP: Berkley. LP: Palmieri. 2B: SH - St. Laurent; AR - Mills. RBI: SH - St. Laurent 3, C. Mathis, B. Mathis, Wessling 2, Bowers, Glasser, Berkley.