As a pop up off the bat of Archbishop Spalding's Jordan Johnson fell to the ground in the bottom of the second inning, the Cavaliers appeared to have taken a three-run lead and had all the momentum in Monday's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference semifinal against John Carroll.
The call was eventually overturned on an interference call on the Spalding runner, which negated the two runs and ended the inning. John Carroll quickly wrestled away the momentum when it scored three runs in the next inning and never trailed the rest of the way in a 9-3 victory.
John Carroll (9-7) advances to Tuesday's final against Mount de Sales. The Patriots are aiming for their first A Conference title.
"This was a good team win. We hit the ball from top to bottom and everyone contributed," John Carroll coach Sherry Hudson said. "Whether it was defense, getting bunts down, hitting line drives and base hits when we needed them."
The Cavaliers scored first in the bottom of the second when Angela Sena reached on a error and scored on a bases-loaded walk to Catherine Harding. They appeared as though they tacked on two more runs later in the inning when Johnson popped up with the bases loaded and two outs. As a pair of John Carroll infielders converged on the ball, it fell near second base and a pair of runs scored to give the Cavaliers a 3-0 lead. Hudson argued the call, and after the umpires talked it over, the Spalding runner was called for interference, which took the runs off the board and ended the inning.
"In my opinion, it could have gone either way, but once an official makes a call and it's appealed and they talk it over they're not going to go back on their call," Spalding coach Nicki Trumpler said. "I think that was a huge momentum changer because we went from them making an error on defense and us scoring two runs to taking the runs off the board and wiping the inning clean."
John Carroll added salt to the wound in the top of the third when it scored three runs. Meghan Sheehan and Emma Ritter each doubled in a run and Jules Donnelly singled to score another to give the Patriots a 3-1 lead.
The Cavaliers got as close as 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth, but John Carroll scored six runs over the final three innings. Erica James hit a two-run home run in the fifth and Sheehan added a three-run shot in the sixth.
"In the first game we played them, we hit the ball really well." Hudson said. "The next game their pitcher kept us off-balance. We just tried to come out aggressive today with the bats."
Archbishop Spalding, which lost several key pieces from last year's team that won a second straight conference title, won this year with a young team. The four seniors on the squad -- Aubrey Gibson, Harding, Grace Price and Brandy Walterhoefer -- graduate after winning two straight conference titles and advancing to the conference semifinal.
"All four are just great team leaders that brought the tenacity every game," Trumpler said. "I just can't say enough about how they've been solid for the last three years."
The Cavaliers will bring back a team next year that took its lumps early against some top-notch competition, but still finished with the best record in the conference during the regular season and came within a game of another finals appearance.
"I think early on a lot of people thought we weren't going to do as well as we did," Trumpler said. "They did a great job of coming together as a team and they made their own Spalding softball team. They didn't live in the shadows of other Spalding teams. I'm proud of them for that."
WP: Kropkowski; LP: Gibson. 2B: JC - Sweeney, Sheehan, Ritter; AS - Johnson. HR: JC - James, Sheehan. RBI: JC - Sheehan 3, James 2, Donnelly 2, Ritter; AS - Harding 2, Robinson.