Dulaney High rode its pitching, defense and speed to a nail-biting 4-3 victory over visiting Westminster in the first round of the Class 4A North Region playoffs on Thursday.
The victory advanced the Lions to the second round at Perry Hall on Monday, May 14.
The Lions lost to the Gators, 1-0 during the regular season in a game they left base runners stranded in the final inning.
Against Westminster pitcher Ashley Chafin, the Lions got more than one base runner in only the fourth inning, but they capitalized with three runs.
Junior Brittany Deise beat out a routine roller to the mound to start the threat.
She stole second standing up and moved to third on a perfect bunt single by Brooke Wall.
After senior Kathy Albornoz grounded out, Dulaney pitcher Anna Jensen helped her own cause with an RBI single to right field — the only ball hit out of the infield in the inning.
"I didn't hear anything and I didn't think of anything, but to hit the ball," Jensen said. "I wanted to win this game so much."
"She fought off a change-up," Dulaney coach Dave Barwick said.
Stephanie Deise plated Wall with the second run of the inning and Claire Reider's infield hit to shortstop scored courtesy runner Becca King with the third run.
"We have four or five girls with outstanding speed so we try to get down bunts and steal bases," Barwick said.
It looked like the three-spot would be enough for the Lions because Jensen was cruising along.
Through the first five innings she allowed only two hits and a walk and was helped by some fine defensive plays.
"I am so thankful for them (defense)," Jensen said.
Westminster's Brook Dekett led off the fourth with a soft slap to shallow left that was snared with a shoestring catch by left fielder Jessie Hill.
In the fifth, Olivia Pettingill drilled a two-out liner to deep center, but Brittany Deise made a diving over-the-shoulder catch to save at least two runs.
"They had a good outfield and they got all the balls in the outfield," Westminster coach Ashley Moyer said.
The Owls took advantage of two botched rundowns and a pair of walks to produce a run in the sixth to make it 3-1.
It could have been worse, but Westminster's Chafin was called out for interference with shortstop Wall when she collided with her going to third.
"We work on that in practice," Barwick said. "We tell them (fielders) to go to the ball and if they run into you it's going to be interference."
The Lions stole a critical insurance run in the bottom of the sixth when Wall, who walked to start the inning, stole third with two outs and scored on the catcher's throwing error.
"It turned out to be a big run," Barwick said.
That's because Westminster's Megan Frieter stroked a soft two-out two-run single in the top of the seventh inning, after three walks started the rally.
Jensen admitted she was nervous clinging to the 4-3 lead, but she settled down and got Chafin on a grounder to third baseman Reider to end the game.
"I just kind of took a couple of deep breaths and let out a couple of expletives I'm not to proud of and got back into it," Jensen said.
She attributed her late loss of control to having trouble getting back into the groove with the fastball.
"Sometimes, when I throw a rise ball, I have trouble coming back to the fastball because I tend to lean back on it and I started losing it out there, but then I got it back together," Jensen said.
The Lions improved to 11-7 overall and hope to keep extending the careers of the three seniors Courtney Jantzen, Albornoz and Jordan Seibert, who was out with a sprained ankle.