The Northeast softball team made a smart adjustment at the plate on Wednesday to produce a four-run fourth inning against Anne Arundel rival Chesapeake.
It was more than enough support for All-Metro pitcher Brooke Steinbach, who didn't need to change anything she was doing on the mound.
Staying ahead of batters and mostly relying on screwballs, fastballs and fine defense behind her, Steinbach allowed only two hits and struck out eight as the No. 2 Eagles came away with a 4-0 win over the No. 3 Cougars.
"The fourth inning, I think we just realized that she was working outside and that's when we all started hitting to right field. That's what got us started," Steinbach said. "Mostly today was just screwballs and fastballs. It wasn't my game today, but my defense had my back."
Northeast improved to 11-0, while Chesapeake fell to 9-2. Both of the Cougars' losses have come against the Eagles.
Recognizing that Chesapeake pitcher Emily Muller was mostly working the outside of the plate through three scoreless innings, Northeast coach Joe Hart told his Eagles to make her come inside. If she did, drive it. If she didn't, take the ball the other way.
The result was a big inning.
The Eagles had three gap-finding, extra base hits, two singles and two other hard-hit balls that went for errors to push across four runs.
Coral Dittmer started the inning with a double to left-center field and scored on Steinbach's one-out, opposite-field triple. Sarah Kriewald followed with a run-scoring triple to the gap in right-center and later scored the third run.
After yielding a hit in each of the first two innings, Steinbach walked two batters, had another reach on an error, but never had more than one base runner on in a given inning. She closed out the win with a 1-2-3 seventh inning, getting Brooke Baxter to pop out to Kriewald at second base to end the game.
Sarah Gordon had two singles. Baxter and Hunter Royston had Chesapeake's two hits.
"Northeast is on a tremendous roll," Chesapeake coach Don Ellenberger said. "We've been there before and I know what it feels like to be on that side. They just have our number. Joe's put together a great program and Brooke is better than she was last year. She's hitting her spots and has become a very good and smart pitcher."
CH-AA 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -- 0 2 3
NE 0 0 0 4 0 0 x -- 4 7 1
Muller, L. Myers (6) and Sutton; Steinbach and Brengle.
2B: NE – Dittmar. #B: Steinbach, Kriewald.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun