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Lansdowne softball coach urges players to cherish season

Lansdowne softball coach Jamie Izdebski wants her players to try to forget about the final result in the Class 2A state softball semifinals on May 21 at Bachman Sports Complex in Glen Burnie -- a 16-1 loss to Catoctin, of Frederick County.

Instead, Izdebski wants her players to focus on the significance of winning a regional championship and advancing to the final four.

"I myself as a player never won a region championship," Izdebski said. "Not a lot of people can say they won a region championship. So they need to be proud of themselves for doing what they did. Not thinking about one game, but thinking about an entire season.".

The outside expectations for Lansdowne (12-8) this season probably weren't as high as past years.

The Vikings graduated dominating pitcher Maude McCourry, who led the team to three state semifinals and a state final berth in 2011.

With McCourry gone, Izdebski handed the ball to junior pitcher Audrey Melcher.

"We lost key players," Izdebski said. "It's a different mindset. They (the players) were like, 'Oh no.' She had big shoes to fill. Audrey knew she had to step up and she did."

Melcher especially shined in the postseason. She pitched back-to-back shutouts to open the playoffs as the Vikings routed both Owings Mills and Randallstown. Melcher fanned 10 Randallstown batters in five innings.

In a 7-3 regional semifinal win over host Loch Raven, Melcher gave up seven hits and struck out five batters.

She was even better in the regional final, yielding five hits and one walk to lead Lansdowne to a 13-2 thumping of Chesapeake.

"She was a workhorse," Izdebski said. "She just wanted to improve everyday."

Melcher didn't do it alone in the playoffs. The Vikings received some memorable offensive performances. They came from Hannah Goodman (3-for-4, 2 triples and 5 RBIs) and Ayla Montegue (2-for-3, home run) against Owings Mills and from Marlaina McCourry (2-for-4, 4 RBIs) in the win over Randallstown.

Goodman (homer, 4 RBIs) led the 11-hit attack in the conquest of Loch Raven and Kayla Welsh knocked in four runs against Chesapeake.

Unfortunately for the Vikings, the state semifinals were a different story.

Catoctin (21-2) had 15 hits in a game shortened to 4 1/2 innings because of the 10-run mercy rule. Courtney Clemons (3-for-3, 4 RBIs) and Kristy Erfurdt (home run, 4 RBIs) led the Cougars offensively.

"They were hitting the ball in the gaps," Izdebski said. "When that happens, there is nothing you can do about it."

Melcher, Welsh and Channing Long collected hits off of pitcher freshman pitcher Rhiannna Driue (10-1, 2.72 ERA). She struck out seven.

Izdebski had to hold back tears following the game.

After all, she graduates five starters: outfielder Sierra Romano, third baseman Montegue, shortstop McCourry, second baseman Katelyn Strumsky and first baseman Long.

In 2014, Izdebski will turn to her younger players as the Vikings pursue their fifth straight semifinal appearance.

Melcher and Goodman, a freshman catcher, return along with designated player Emily Wilkins, a freshman.

The younger players enjoyed the experience of playing in the final four.

"At the end of the game, the two freshmen had huge smiles," said Izdebski, who is in her 14th year at Lansdowne.

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