By Tom Worgo, firstname.lastname@example.org
5:20 PM EDT, May 25, 2013
A high school softball team can’t play much better than Northern did Saturday afternoon against Eastern Tech in the Class 3A state championship game in College Park.
The Patriots, from Calvert County, combined pitching, defense and speed into a 3-0 victory over the No. 1 Mavericks to win their sixth straight title and 10th overall.
Northern pitcher Jessica Cummings threw a two-hitter, struck out 12 and walked three to lead the Patriots to their state-record 76th consecutive victory.
Cummings, who will attend Penn State on a softball scholarship, finished the season with 298 strikeouts and allowed only 17 hits in 121 innings.
“She was pretty awesome,” Eastern Tech coach Jack Meyers said. “She is dominant with the rise ball. We have been trying, trying and trying to simulate that in practice, and it just didn’t happen for us. And her changeup is 45 miles per hour. She just floats it in there.”
Defensively, the Patriots — ranked No. 1 in the country by MaxPreps.com — didn’t make an error for the second straight game.
“Their defense was lights-out,” said Meyers, whose team was making its first state final appearance in school history. “We hit the ball a couple of times, and we thought we were going to score some runs. It’s tough to put together a game plan against a team like them.”
As dominant as Cummings pitched, the Mavericks threatened to score in the top of the first inning.
Leadoff batter Brook Samios-Uy hit a double to the left-center field gap and went to third base on a passed ball with one out. But Cummings struck out Jordan Cargile and Laurel Thacker to get out of the jam.
Northern’s first run came in the bottom of the first. Kassidy Cross led off with a single to center field, was sacrificed to second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Erin Adams’ groundout to the shortstop.
“We came in, scored one run, and they know it’s over,” Northern coach Robert Earl Radford said of his team. “We gave up one unearned run all year. When you think about it, that’s an amazing thing to do.”
The Patriots (23-0) increased their lead to 2-0 in the third inning off Cargile (0.75 ERA), who allowed two earned runs and seven hits in seven innings while walking two batters and striking out one.
Julie Keleti reached on an infield hit, and when Erin Adams grounded out to second, Keleti went all the way to third base. Keleti came home on Kristia Lozupone’s sacrifice fly to left field.
Eastern Tech (21-1) threatened again in the fourth inning as Cummings walked Thacker and Giselle Alvarez with two outs, but the pitcher struck out Lindsay Meyers, the coach’s daughter, to end the inning.
Northern scored the final run in the sixth. Catcher Sarah Bennett (2-for-2) knocked in Kierstie Schaefer, who doubled with one out, on a sacrifice fly to center field.
“They scored runs like you don’t even know how,” Meyers said. “That’s the kind of team they are.”
Class 3A state final
Northern 3 Eastern Tech 0
Northern 101001 — 370
Eastern Tech 0000000 — 021
Cargile and Samios-UY; Cummings and Lozupone. 2B: N— Schaefer. ET — Samios-UY.