Catonsville softball pulls away in showdown with Lansdowne

Catonsville’s small ball prevailed against Lansdowne’s power strokes in a softball showdown between neighborhood rivals on Tuesday afternoon.

The host Comets earned an 11-6 victory for their second win of the season by taking extra bases and putting the ball in play.

Of Catonsville’s 10 hits, seven were singles and three were doubles.

Lansdowne (4-5) had 13 hits, including a home run and triple from Ayla Montegue (3-for-4), home run from Hannah Goodman (1-for-2), and triple from Audrey Melcher (2-for-5).

But, when Catonsville senior pitcher Molly Ertel needed to get big outs, she got them.

In the first inning, the Vikings had runners on second and third, but third baseman Jess Lowe (2-for-4) made a tough stab of a two-hopper to end the rally.

Lansdowne built a 3-0 lead in the top of the second on a solo homer from Goodman and two-run triple by Melcher (2-for-5) that plated Sam Burney and Sierra Romano (3-for-5).

The Vikings threatened to stretch the lead in the third when Montegue tripled with one out and Goodman walked.

But, Ertel caught a soft pop up short of the mound and doubled off the runner on first to end the inning.
In the bottom of the third, the Comets exploded for six runs.

Maddie Haspert (1-for-3), Taylor Skidmore (1-for-4) and Kirby Sauble (2-for-3) had RBI singles and Paige Fricke (2-for-3, 2 runs) had a run-scoring double.

The Comets also took advantage of an error, walk and hit by pitch.

Lansdowne fought back to within 6-5 in the fifth inning, after Montegue’s two-run blast plated Channing Long, who had singled with one out.

After Goodman walked for the second time, Kayla Welsh reached on a force out, but advanced to second with the tying run after an error.

Ertel retired Burney on a grounder to shortstop Callie McCleary that ended the inning with the Comets still holding a one-run lead.

They expanded that lead in the bottom of the fifth off relief pitcher Melcher, who had struck out the side in the fourth inning.

Fricke and Sauble singled up the middle, and with two outs, McCleary’s sinking liner to left field turned into a two-run double.

She scored on an error and the Comets led, 9-5.

Lansdowne rallied again in the top of the sixth when Melcher and McCourry (2-for-3) reached first and second with two outs, but Ertel fanned Long with a drop curve on the outside corner for one her four strikeouts.

“She’s not really a strikeout pitcher,” Catonsville coach Bill Nelson said. “Her big thing is sometimes she gets the ball too much over the plate and they had a couple really big hits on the balls that were grooved.”

The Comets added two big hits of their own and scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth as doubles from Lowe (2-for-4) and Rebecca Meseke sparked the uprising.

Meseke had scored a run after pinch running in the fifth inning and she ended the scoring in the sixth with a run-scoring double down the third base line.

“We had a lot of big two-out hits,” Nelson said. “Coming off the bench, Becca got a big hit her first time up down the line.”

Lansdowne’s Burney had an RBI single in the seventh, but Ertel ended the rally by getting a soft pop up to third baseman Lowe.

The win was only the second for the Comets (2-9), but it was sweeter because it came against a rival squad that reached the state finals twice and won three regional titles in the past four years.

“Since they are close, it is fun playing them and we were ready,” said Ertel, who praised her defense. “We are getting a lot better with our defense and that helps a lot. We had a lot of new players because a lot of seniors graduated last year, so now we are starting to get in our groove.”

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