Howard pitcher Kayli Paugh took the ball and took a deep breath. Her team’s lead had been cut in half by a solo home run by Mt. Hebron freshman Rylee Kinsella in the bottom of the seventh inning Monday, but Paugh wasn’t panicking.
She knew it was time for her to finish what she started.
“I was thinking, ‘hey, we still have the lead … all I need is one more out.’ I knew they could come back, it happened to me last year against Glenelg at the beginning of the season, but I just stayed confident,” Paugh said. “I wanted to stay aggressive and go after the next batter.”
Paugh went on to strike out the next hitter looking, her 12th strikeout of the day, to put the finishing touches on a 2-1 victory on the road for the Lions. After losing to Mt. Hebron (0-1, 0-1) in last year’s playoffs, Howard (1-0, 2-0) and Paugh had a little extra incentive Monday.
“My mentality the whole time was we had to get them, we had to come out with a bang,” Paugh said. “My fastball was definitely my thing today. I was throwing it inside and low … the umpire was calling it, I was throwing it and they couldn’t get to it.”
While Paugh did the heavy lifting on the pitching rubber, it was Stephanie Yarrish that was the star offensively for Howard. It was her single in the second inning that drove in Berit Batterton for the Lions’ first run and it was her double in the fifth that set up the team’s second score.
In the fifth, to cross the plate with that insurance run, Yarrish took advantage of back-to-back wild pitches.
Even on her one out of the day, Yarrish hit a hard ball to deep left center. Against Mt. Hebron sophomore pitcher Evvie Buehlman, who was in control throughout most of the day and had nine strikeouts of her own, Yarrish knew every run was going to be critical.
“This past travel season I’ve improved so much and I’ve actually been working with Evvie during the winter because she plays for the same (travel) organization,” Yarrish said. “Today, I just battled. When I got to two-strike counts, I choked up on the bat and just watched the ball from her hand. I knew how important it was to get ahead early, so I just tried to get the ball in play.”
With the Lions’ offense scratching across runs, Paugh simply rolled along. Between the fourth and sixth innings she didn’t allow a single base runner. When the Vikings’ did make contact, like Sammi Cadigan’s hard hit ball to right field in the fourth inning, Howard’s defense came through.
Against Broadneck on Saturday, Howard coach Chuck Rice used both his ace pitchers — Paugh and Courtney Merson — in a shutout victory. Against Mt. Hebron, Rice decided to let Paugh go the whole way.
“She’s had two great games so far. Down at Broadneck, she blew all those batters away and she was excellent on the mound again today,” Rice said. “This was one of those games where I felt we needed some heat, and I was going to put Courtney in there but the way Kayli was going I decided to let it roll.
“But that’s beauty of having two good pitchers … you can play the match-ups and ride the hot hand.”
Mt. Hebron certainly made things interesting in the seventh inning. Cadigan led off with a bullet to left center, but Howard’s Shannon Wiley made a running catch for the first out. After a ground out, Kinsella came up and roped her first career home run over the fence in left field to make it a 2-1 game.
Before the rally could continue, though, Paugh closed the door with one final strikeout.
“You had two really good pitchers going head-to-head and, at the end of the day, they came up with a few more big hits than we did,” Struhar said. “We hit the ball hard a few times, but their defense made a few good plays and the middle of our line-up couldn’t get going. I’m not disappointed, they’re a really good team and so are we.
“Today was their day.”
For Howard, the win helps put some of those bad memories from last season in the rear view mirror.
“We left last season with our heads down and we felt like the underdogs this game, so I’m glad we came up big today,” Paugh said. “My pitching was strong, Stephanie Yarrish came through with the hits, our defense played great … I mean, everybody had a good game. Just great all the way around.”
Howard 2, Mt. Hebron 1
123 456 7 R-H-E
Ho 010 010 0 2-4-0
MH 000 000 1 1-2-1
Reservoir 3, Centennial 0
Emily Wang pitched a no-hitter for the Gators, striking out 11 batters along the way to secure the shutout victory. The win improves Reservoir to 2-0 overall on the season.
Offensively, Reservoir got two-hit days from Anna Bennett (1 RBI) and Carly Clarke (1 SB), along with a hit and RBI from Sophia Sommerkamp.
In the loss, Emily Bowman had eight strikeouts and no walks as the pitcher for Centennial.
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C 000 000 0 0-0-2
Re 000 210 x 3-7-4
Glenelg 17, Hammond 5 (5 innings)
The Gladiators scored at least one run in every inning on their way to the five-inning victory over the Golden Bears. Among the standout performances for the Gladiators was multi-hit efforts from Breanna Smith (3-5), Brooke Redmond (2-2, 2 walks, triple) and Alison Piwowarski (2-3, walk). Faith Kujawa also added a double.
Gina Netreba did the pitching for Glenelg, while the duo of Emily Speierman and Caroline Goyne split the pitching duties for Hammond.
Speierman (2-3, double), Kelly Smith (2-3) and Emily Dowdall (3-3) all had multi-hit days in the loss for the Bears.
Hammond capitalized on some early errors to score all five of its runs in the first two innings. The Golden Bears scored on a single by Smith, a two-run single by Dowdall and a single by Keyuana Griffin.
Glenelg made some adjustments after that and scored 15 unanswered runs.
“After a meeting with the whole team at the mound during the bottom of the second inning, assistant coach Candice Gerstner said the right thing to the team to ignite them,” Glenelg coach Ray Gerstner said.
Glenelg scored six runs in the third inning, kick-started by a two-run single by Claire Swan. Then in the fifth, the team put the game away with seven runs. In that fifth inning, there was an RBI single by Piwowarski, an RBI single by Smith, an RBI single by Grace Daigle, an RBI single by Kujawa and a two-run single by Redmond.
123 45 R-H-E
G 116 27 17-16-3
Ha 140 00 5-10-6
Atholton 8, Long Reach 2
The Raiders picked up the win behind a solid performance from Alex Herschman in the pitching circle. She struck out six, allowed just three hits and two earned runs on the way to picking up the win.
Offensively, sophomore third baseman Miranda Thompson went 2-3 with 3 RBI and solid defense. Junior centerfielder Jaimie Cardea went 2-3 with 3 RBI as well, while junior Amanda Petersen went 3-4 with 2 RBI.
For Long Reach, Isa Carunungan struck out four and walked four, while pitching five scoreless innings out of seven. She also singled and scored a run. Christina Doshim hit a triple and had 2 RBI.
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A 005 300 0 8-9-1
LR 000 002 0 2-3-3
River Hill 10, Marriotts Ridge 0 (6 innings)
Sabrina Curtiss pitched a strong game on the mound, allowing just two hits (a double and a bunt single) while striking out four and walking none in six scoreless innings.
The Hawks were led defensively by Curtiss fielding her position well at pitcher, Hayley Lala at shortstop and Courtney Doyle in left field.
Kinsey Johnson started the River Hill scoring in the first inning with a drive over the center fielder’s head for a home run. She finished 3-4 with a stolen base. Sara Mascone, Kallan Dirmeyer, Sabrina Curtiss and Kristy Selby all went 2-4.
Caroline Hickey got her first extra base hit of the season with a double down the left field line. Jayne Tokar got her first varsity hit to drive in the final run of the game.
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MR 000 000 0-2-4
RH 110 134 10-15-0
Oakland Mills 20, Wilde Lake 5 (5 innings)
The Scorpions took advantage of a huge third inning where they scored 12 runs and that lifted them to the five-inning victory.
Tori Gordon pitched for Oakland Mills and earned the victory.
The Wilde Lake bats were led by Amber Love, who was 2-2 with an RBI and two runs scored. Freshman Faith Leslie picked up her first varsity hit and drove in two runs at the same time. Also tacking on hits for the Wildecats were Brittany Kuntz (2-4, run scored), Marissa Sciabbara (run scored, RBI), Katie Hines, Mekayla Tucker and Rachel Rabinowitz.
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WL 002 30 5-9-1
OM 44(12) 0x 20-8-2