Howard’s stranglehold on the county championship race got a little tighter Monday.
Just hours after learning their suspended game against Mt. Hebron was ruled to be a completed 7-3 victory, the Lions came out and backed it up with a convincing 7-1 win on the road against River Hill (10-3, 11-4).
Kayli Paugh pitched a complete-game, striking out five, allowing just four hits and one run to provide more than enough support for a Howard (12-1, 14-1-1) offense that scored the most runs River Hill’s pitching staff has allowed in one game this spring.
Howard's win, combined with a Mt. Hebron loss to Glenelg, gives the Lions a two-game lead in the county standings.
“It shows a lot of gumption. The girls are just so resilient that they can come back from anything and they are so willing to learn that you just want to go and put them in the situations and let them (do it),” Howard coach Chuck Rice said. “I’m very proud of this team. This team is probably one of the top two teams I’ve ever coached and I’ve been coaching for 28 years.”
Brittany Bryson (3-3, double, 2 runs scored, RBI) and Berit Batterton (two hits, home run, 2 runs scored) were the offensive stars on a day where Howard had plenty of them.
In fact, after the Lions went three-up and three-down in each of the first two innings, it was Bryson that changed the momentum with a lead-off single in the third. She would come around to score on a ground out by Taylor McGrann (double, 2 RBI) and start a streak of four straight innings of at least one run for Howard.
“I tried to calm myself down and wait on the pitches … and I just saw the ball really well today,” Bryson said. “Overall, I think our momentum was just so different than the first time (we played them). We had a chip on our shoulder from the Centennial loss and then the stuff from Hebron just got us fired up even more. We know that we aren’t taking anybody lightly anymore.”
The Lions offensive explosion against River Hill pitcher Sabrina Curtiss came after being almost completely shutdown by her earlier this season in a game Howard needed extra innings to win, 2-1.
Rice said his girls had to change their approach at the plate.
“We made the adjustments we had to. She keeps that ball outside and she hits her spots,” he said. “So you have to be ready to hit the ball to the opposite field and we spent a lot of time in practice on Saturday working on that.”
Howard ended up scoring four of its runs off Curtiss before River Hill coach Marni Rosenbaum brought Kristy Selby on in relief. The Lions would go on to add their insurance runs in the sixth, with Courtney Merson delivering the big hit (2-RBI double).
“It was definitely a debate of mine whether I pitch Sabrina and let them see her again or if I go with Kristy. Going back looking, (Sabrina) was pretty successful last time — something like three or four hits — so we went with her again,” Rosenbaum said. “They just had some really hard-hit balls to the gaps today.”
River Hill didn’t have many hits, but did hit the ball hard most of the afternoon. A couple nice plays by the left side of the Lions infield, along with a couple snags on comebackers by Paugh in the pitcher’s circle, thwarted potential rallies.
It wasn’t until the seventh inning that the Hawks got their lone run, as Hayley Lala led off with a double and then came around to score on a hit by Courtney Colosimo.
“I think we hit the ball, just it was right at them almost every time,” Rosenbaum said. “I mean credit to Kayli for doing a nice job of fielding her position out there. And it’s a tough one for us, but as we go through here this is a learning experience that hopefully we can use as we get closer to the playoffs.”
The loss drops River Hill two games behind Howard and into a tie with Mt. Hebron and Glenelg in the county standings. Howard, which is aiming for its first county title since 2011, has four games left on its regular-season schedule.
Howard 7, River Hill 1
123 456 7 R-H-E
Ho 001 123 0 7-8-1
RH 000 000 1 1-4-2
Atholton 7, Hammond 4
Alex Herschman got the win on the mound for the Raiders, striking out seven and walking just one. Herschman also went 2-4 with a run scored offensively.
in addition, Atholton got a big day from senior catcher Maya Schwartz. She went 3-4 with a double, RBI, run scored and a stolen base.
Hammond’s offensive highlights came from Keyuana Griffin (2-RBI single) and Emily Dowdall (2-RBI double) in what was a three-run sixth inning.
123 456 7 R-H-E
A 011 050 0 7-6-1
Ha 000 003 1 4-5-6
Reservoir 15, Marriotts Ridge 7
The Gators jumped out to a quick lead with nine runs in the bottom of the first and never looked back en route to the victory. Emily Wang pitched for Reservoir and finished with 11 strikeouts.
Offensively, the Gators got huge days from Anna Bennett (2-3, double, home run, 5 RBI), Hannah Pinion (2-4, double, RBI), Caroline Winand (2-4, double, 4 RBI) and Wang (home run and 3 RBI).
Katie Smith (2-4, RBI), Kelly Hamilton (double) and Anna Geier (double) led Marriotts Ridge.
123 456 7 R-H-E
MR 021 022 0 7-6-3
Re 900 051 x 15-12-2
Glenelg 5, Mt Hebron 3
In a game that saw the two teams go back and forth most of the way, the Gladiators prevailed with two runs apiece in the fourth and sixth innings.
In the fourth it was an RBI single by Sharon Mielke that did the big damage, while in the sixth it was Alison Wilcox (triple), Faith Kujawa (double) and Mielke who accounted for the offense.
On the day, Kujawa had two doubles.
Colleen Regan got the win at pitcher for Glenelg, allowing three runs, striking out five and surrendering six hits.
Some of the Vikings’ highlights included an RBI single in the first inning from Alli Bluhm, along with a SAC fly by Kathryn Diaz in the sixth.
123 456 7 R-H-E
G 010 202 0 5-8-0
MH 110 001 0 3-6-2
Long Reach 12, Wilde Lake 2
Kelsey Widmaier pitched a really solid game for the Lightning with a career-high five strikeouts. She also contributed a walk and an RBI at the plate.
Christina Doshim, Isa Carunungan and Alina Milauskas all had doubles and scored a combined seven runs. Milauskas cleared the bases in the bottom of the fifth to end the game. Sam Samples had another good day offensively as well, going 2-3 with 2 RBI and a run scored.
Mekayla Tucker and Sydney McNamara each scored for Wilde Lake, with McNamara going 2-2 with a triple, a single and an RBI. Brittany Kuntz delivered an RBI double in the third inning to score McNamara.
Other strong efforts for Wilde Lake came from Marissa Sciabarra (1-2, walk) and Faith Leslie (2-3, double). Defensively, Leslie picked off a runner at first and threw out a runner at second.
123 45 R-H-E
WL 001 10 2-6-2
LR 530 22 12-12-2
Centennial 12, Oakland Mills 5
Josefine Jensen and Emily Bowman split the pitching duties for the Eagles, with Bowman coming on in relief to earn the win.
Jensen led Centennial’s charge at the plate, going 2-3 with two runs, two doubles and an RBI. Other strong efforts came from Jordan Burk (2-4, double, 3 RBI) and Brita Hawtof (1-4, double, 2 RBI).