Stepping to the plate with two outs in the top of the seventh inning of a tie game against Howard Friday, Glenelg’s Faith Kujawa said she didn’t feel any pressure.
As far as she was concerned her teammates had already taken care of the hard part by scoring two runs in the inning to start the comeback — all she had to do was finish it.
And, with her two-run homerun over the left-centerfield fence, that’s exactly what Kujawa did.
Glenelg ended up scoring four runs in the final inning, capped by Kujawa’s long ball, and earned themselves a come-from-behind 6-4 victory over the Lions on the road.
“The motivation of everybody being able to get a hit before me and driving a couple runs in, it made me realize now was my chance,” Kujawa said. “When it comes to situations like that, I just go for it. I get in the zone and I get focused … and it worked today.”
In a lot of ways this meeting between the county’s two powerhouse programs was eerily similar to last year’s early-season match-up. Glenelg won that game last year, 2-1, on a two-run homerun in the seventh inning by Ciara Davis with two outs.
This time, the decisive blow again came with two-outs and epitomized a Gladiator team that simply refused to quit.
“This is kind of right where we left off last year in terms of never giving up until that last out,” Glenelg coach Ray Gerstner said. “It’s like they knew they were going to pull through the whole way. I’m very proud of them.”
The last inning spoiled what was otherwise a solid outing by Howard pitcher Kayli Paugh, who had three strikeouts and didn’t allow a single run from the third thru sixth inning. The Lions also got big days at the plate from Katie Wilkinson (4-for-4 with 2 RBI) and Courtney Merson (3-for-3 with a double).
Glenelg simply delivered in the clutch. In that final inning, Toni Pritchard doubled to lead things off, Morgan Perry singled two batters later and then Colleen Regan hit a SAC fly to get a run on the board. Brooke Remond came up next and doubled off the fence in left to tie the game.
Then it was Kujawa’s turn.
“I give a lot of credit to Glenelg, they simply outhit us there at the end,” Howard coach Chuck Rice said. “I thought we were solid defensively, made some real nice plays to put us in position. They just came through with the big hits.”
Glenelg's Colleen Regan came on for starting pitcher Mandy Bendix in the fifth and pitched three scoreless innings of relief to pick up the victory.
Howard got on the board first with a run in the bottom of the opening inning courtesy of an RBI single by Wilkinson that scored Taylor McGrann.
Glenelg answered in the top of the second with two runs, courtesy of four singles and a RBI apiece from Leah Allen and Grace Daigle.
But after that, Howard’s defense began to shine to help the Lions shut the Gladiators down. In the fourth inning, for example, after retaking the lead 3-2, the Lions got themselves out of a bases-loaded jam.
Wilkinson got the first out of the inning when she fielded a bunt, faked the throw to first and then tagged the runner trying to score from third. Then, two batters later with the bags again full, shortstop Berit Batterton snagged a line drive and doubled the runner up at third.
“We called a play and Katie executed it perfectly … she sold it with the fake and turned around and tagged the runner to get that first out,” Rice said. “Then our freshman shortstop, Berit, came through to get us out of it.”
Riding high after escaping without allowing a run, Howard went on to add a run of its own in the bottom of the inning to create the 4-2 score that held up all the way until the final inning when Glenelg put together the decisive push.
Glenelg 6, Howard 4