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.
Merson helped herself out with the bat too, going 2-4 with a home run and two RBI. But she wasn’t the only one smacking the ball around. Kayli Paugh went 3-5 with a home run of her own and four RBI, Berit Batterton went 4-5 with a double, triple and two RBI, and Katie Wilkinson went 3-5 with 2 RBI.
The second game, though, was an old fashioned pitcher’s duel.
Paugh, who had sparkled with the bat early in the day, was masterful on the pitching rubber for the Lions and kept her team in the game while Broadneck pitcher Heather Ostrowski was cruising as well with four straight scoreless innings to start.
Paugh went on to pitch a one-hitter, striking out 10 and walking none. She got rolling early with a three strikeouts through the first two innings and didn’t slow down.
“Once we went through the line-up once and I knew that most of my pitches were working, I was really comfortable” Paugh said. “(The umpire) was calling a lot on the outside, so I threw my curve and took advantage of that.”
Howard catcher Alli Jakubek said she knew Paugh was in for a special day before the game even began.
“She had probably the best warm-up she’s ever had,” Jakubek said. “All of her pitches were really strong. Usually there is one that’s weak, but this time everything was literally perfect in warm-ups. And in the game, she had that attitude that she was going to win whatever it took.”
As it turned out Jakubek ended up being the hero offensively. She mustered two of the team’s five hits and the second of those was a two-run home run down the left field line that provided the winning margin.
Ironically enough, she had been given the sign to bunt the runner (Shannon Wiley) over, but Jakubek swung away and ended up finding a gap.
“The pitch before I was like ‘that’s my pitch,’ and it somehow came again and that never happens, so I swung away,” she said. “I hit it and it happened to be a home run, which was awesome.”
The pair of victories on Saturday was especially rewarding for a Howard team that has now put together three straight wins after starting the spring 1-2.
“We definitely got over those losses fast. The next time we went to practice, we really buckled down and knew what we had to do and had to change,” Jakubek said. “What happened was in the past and we couldn’t go back and change it … we had to move on.”
Glenelg 9, Broadneck 2
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G 000 006 3 9-13-3
B 002 000 0 2-2-3
Glenelg 6, Chesapeake 3
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G 001 130 1 6-15-3
C 010 011 0 3-9-1
Howard 12, Northeast 4
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Ho 342 010 2 12-20-4
NE 000 103 0 4-4-0
Howard 2, Broadneck
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B 000 000 0 0-1-0
Ho 000 020 x 2-5-1
North Carroll 6, Reservoir 1
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NC 110 121 0 6-14-2
Re 000 100 0 1-5-3
Reservoir 8, Winters Mill 3
Anna Bennett went 2-4 with an RBI, Caroline Winand had 4 RBI and Tara Thompson scored three runs for a Gators’ team that jumped on the board early with three runs in each of the first two innings.
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Re 330 000 2 8-4-2
WM 000 300 0 3-4-5
Marriotts Ridge 11, Towson 1
The Mustangs got a 4-4 outing from Lindsay Kellner at the plate, along with 3-4 efforts from Ashlie Muffelotto and Katie Smith on their way to the 10-run victory. Danielle Lein was also huge, going 2-3 with a double and 4 RBI.
Smith pitched and struck out 11 while allowing just four hits and no walks.
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T 000 10 1-4-1
MR 400 34 11-17-3
Tuscarora 5, Marriotts Ridge 3 (6 innings – time limit)
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T 000 311 5-6-2
MR 000 003 3-6-4Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun