Allen excels as Glenelg clinches Howard softball title

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.”

Other games:

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.

“This was a great game defensively for us,” River Hill coach Marni Rosenbaum said. “We made some great plays and kept our head in the game.”

Offensively, River Hill got a run in the first inning courtesy of a single by Sara Mascone that scored Kat Varga, who had singled earlier in the inning.

Hammond answered back in the top of the second inning when Caroline Goyne singled in Amber Ginsburg to make it 1-1.

The score stayed tied all the way until the bottom of the sixth when River hill broke things open by scoring five times with two outs. With the bases loaded, Megan Sterling delivered a 2-RBI single to get the scoring underway. Then Kinsey Johnson reached on an error that scored two more, before Mascone singled in the fifth run of the frame.

Samantha Speierman pitched for Hammond and had six strikeouts.

            123 456 7        R-H-E

Ha       010 000 0        1-6-3

RH      100 005 x        6-8-1

Marriotts Ridge 19, Wilde Lake 6

The Mustangs scored early and often, putting at least three runs on the board in each of the first four innings, to defeat the Wildecats. Marriotts Ridge produced 19 hits as a team.

Jess Dubbs led the way with four of those base knocks and three runs scored, but there were five other players that had two or more hits. Erin Kratochowill (3-4) and Alex Cwalina (2-3, 3 RBI) had doubles as part of their big days. Isabella Sala scored three times.

Anna Geier got the win at pitcher for the Mustangs, striking out three over her three innings of work.

Wilde Lake put five of its six runs on the board in the third inning thanks to some timely hitting. Sophomores Amber Love and Marissa Sciabarra, junior Brittany Kuntz and seniors Melanie Anderson and Kourtney Harrison all scored in the inning. The Wildecats also tacked on another run in the fourth, courtesy of an RBI double by Harrison.

            123 45             R-H-E

MR      365 50             19-19-0

WL      005 10             6-4-4

Howard 4, Centennial 1

The Lions earned a walk-off win in the bottom of the seventh inning when Courtney Merson launched a three-run home run over the left field fence.

Howard had put Jodi Bahrijczuk and Taylor McGrann on base courtesy of singles in front of Merson.

Before that, it was a pitcher’s duel. Howard’s Kayli Paugh struck out 11 and allowed just three hits, while Centennial’s Emily Bowman struck out four and scattered nine hits.

Howard had held a 1-0 lead going into the seventh before Centennial’s Katie Judd (2-2) delivered a clutch hit to tie the game up.

The Lions got mutli-hit games from Merson, McGrann and Katie Wilkinson.

            123 456 7        R-H-E

C         000 000 1        1-3-1

Ho       000 010 3        4-9-1

Mt. Hebron 11, Long Reach 0

The Vikings continued their late-season surge by winning its sixth game in a row, defeating Long Reach in five innings.

Maddie Bennett got the win at pitcher, giving up only three hits and striking out nine batters. Evvie Buehlman led the offense with two doubles, a single and 3 RBI. Bridgette Vogan had three hits and scored three times, while Alli Bluhm tripled and singled.

The Vikings really broke things open in the fifth inning, scoring six runs. Erin Vogan and Bennett each doubled to start the inning, followed by big hits by Stephanie Bluhm and Buehlman. Defensively, Kathryn Diaz did a great job behind the plate to help secure the shutout.

For Long Reach, Alina Milauskas, Noelle Colligan and Madison Basham had hits.

            123 45             R-H-E

MH     103 16             11-12-0

LR       000 00             0-3-2


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