On senior day, with the county championship on the line, Glenelg’s Leah Allen delivered a performance befitting of the reigning Howard County Player of the Year.
The senior shortstop collected two home runs and made nine putouts in the field, leading the way to a 6-4 victory over Atholton that clinches the Gladiators sole possession of this year’s county title.
“As a team, we all knew we had to step up today and being my last regular season home game there was definitely a little extra motivation,” Allen said. “I knew it was up to me to step up as a leader and do my part. We had to leave it all on the field today.”
Facing an Atholton (12-3, 13-3) team that was coming off a one-run loss to Centennial a day earlier, Glenelg (15-0, 18-0) knew it was going to be facing a hungry team. And, sure enough, the visiting Raiders came out and put two quick runs on the board in the top of the second inning.
With a pair of runners on base with two outs, the Raiders got back-to-back singles by Danielle Dolbow and Jamie Cardea to plate Amanda Petersen and Nikki Martin.
“We knew they were going to come out hard, they did the same thing last time we played them. We just had to stay composed,” said Allen.
After empty frames in the first two innings, Glenelg finally got things going in the third. Marissa Saglimbeni led off with a single and then, after Atholton recorded two straight outs, Allen came up and laced an inside-the-park home run to right field to tie the game at two.
Glenelg then added another run in the fourth on a solo home run over the fence in right by Faith Kujawa to grab its first lead of the game.
“The girls showcased that same fight they have all season and, as they’ve shown time and time again, once we get that lead again it’s awfully hard to steal it back,” Glenelg coach Ray Gerstner said.
The Gladiators got themselves some big insurance runs in the fifth inning, sending eight batters to the plate on the strength of five hits — all with two outs.
Allen’s solo shot over the fence in right field started it and then Morgan Perry, Mandy Bendix, Colleen Regan and Kujawa all followed with hits as part of a three-run inning that made it 6-2.
Atholton, however, didn’t quit.
In the top of the sixth, Maya Schwartz led off with a hard single and then Melanie Berger (3-3 on the day) delivered a two-run blast over the fence to cut the Raiders’ deficit in half, 6-4.
“I was so proud of them today … they battled and gave themselves a chance despite being down big against one of the top teams in the state,” Atholton coach Bob Baxter said. “Their heart and resiliency this whole season has been tremendous.”
Glenelg, however, made sure the Raiders didn’t get any closer. Atholton brought the tying runner to the plate in the sixth and seventh innings, but the Gladiators induced a pair of groundouts to eliminate both threats and clinch the game.
The county championship is Glenelg’s second straight and third in the last four years, something Gerstner said is an accomplishment not to be understated.
“With the parity across the county this year, we really had to work hard for this (championship),” Gerstner said. “We’re sitting here undefeated, but it’s been a battle every time out … and I think that makes it extra special. The girls earned every bit of this.”
River Hill 6, Hammond 1
Sabrina Curtiss was strong on the mound and the defense behind her was spectacular, as the Hawks pulled away late for a win over the Golden Bears at home. Curtiss struck out three, allowed six hits and walked just one, while River Hill’s defense turned three double plays.