Glenelg vs. Chesapeake

Glenelg's Faith Kujawa, left, gets Chesapeake's Deja Sutton, center, out at first. (Staff photo by Jen Rynda / March 30, 2013)

A week later, in another showcase event against Anne Arundel County competition, Howard County picked up right where it left off.

Playing in the Cavalier Classic at the Randazzo softball park on Saturday, Glenelg and Howard each swept a pair of games against top tier Anne Arundel programs. Glenelg defeated Broadneck (9-2) and Chesapeake (6-3), while Howard knocked off Northeast (12-4) and Broadneck (2-0).

In the latest Baltimore Sun poll, both Chesapeake (No. 1) and Northeast (No. 4) were ranked in the top five and ahead of all 12 Howard County schools.

But Saturday, on the heels of last week’s play day that saw Howard County schools take 8 of 12 games against Anne Arundel County foes, Glenelg and Howard played like teams worthy of being in the conversation with the state’s elite.

“We knew these were going to be tough games, but I’m feeling really good about our team and loving how we’re playing,” said Glenelg’s Faith Kujawa, who belted two home runs against Chesapeake to spark that 6-3 victory. “Honestly, one of my goals is to go undefeated and with our talent and ability to pick each other up I think we can do it. We just have to stay focused and keep playing like this.”

With the pair of wins, Glenelg improved to 7-0 on the season.

Neither game was easy, with the Gladiators trailing in both contests. However, the ability to prevail in the face of adversity is becoming a trademark of this year’s squad, which now owns four comeback wins.

After falling behind 2-0 against Broadneck, the Glenelg bats finally woke up to score nine times over the final two innings to win going away. The Gladiators scored six times in the sixth inning and another three times in the seventh.

Mandy Bendix, who got the start on the mound and kept the team in the game to set up the comeback, was responsible for scoring the go-ahead run in the sixth inning. She finished the game 3-4 at the plate. Other offensive stars were Toni Pritchard (4-4, triple, 5 RBI) and Colleen Regan (2-2, 1 RBI).

Regan came in to relieve Bendix and ended up pitching her way to the win.

Broadneck ended up scoring two runs on just two hits overall.

Chesapeake, which had already beaten Howard, 13-7, earlier this season, was the day’s big test. And, again, after falling behind 1-0 through the first two innings, the Gladiators responded.

Kujawa did the heavy lifting. She delivered a solo shot to center in the fourth inning and then came up in the fifth with two runners on and delivered another bomb over the center fielder’s head off Chesapeake pitcher Emily Muller.

“I was not doing the best at the beginning (of the day), but everyone was telling me to relax, talk a breath and just wait and get my pitch,” said Kujawa, who also noted afterward that she was playing with new contacts. “I found my pitch, I swung and it worked … both of them were like the exact same thing.”

Glenelg had built itself a 5-1 cushion by the top of the fifth inning and that was more than enough for the defense and Regan on the mound. Regan, who improved to 7-0 on the season with the pair of wins Saturday, found herself in a couple jams in the later innings.

But thanks to some big pitches in tight spots and a couple sparkling plays by Leah Allen at shortstop and Bendix in center, Regan escaped while allowing just two runs down the stretch.

“We haven’t beat them for awhile, so I knew that if I didn’t stay focused the whole time they could get going and score runs very quickly,” said Regan, who was a member of the team that lost to Chesapeake in the District V Championship game last spring. “It definitely helps having such a great defense behind me, you know that they are always there to pick me up. They made some great plays today.”

Other stars for Glenelg in the victory were Grace Daigle (3-4, run) and Bendix (2-4, 1 RBI) at the plate. Catcher Brooke Redmond threw out Chesapeake’s Olivia Ravadge at second to end a threat in the first inning.

Howard’s two games were very different from one another, but the results were very much the same.

In the opening game of the day, the Lions jumped all over Northeast with nine runs in the opening three innings. That was more than enough run support for pitcher Courtney Merson, who went the complete game, struck out four and allowed just four hits. Her only real rough inning came in the sixth, where she allowed three runs to score, but by then the game was well in hand.