Back in April, the Glen Burnie softball team managed to bust out of its early-season funk to forge a path that would lead all the way to Saturday's Class 4A state final in College Park.
Once there, however, the Gophers simply couldn't pull off another turnaround.
Sherwood from Montgomery County scored three runs against Glen Burnie starting pitcher Ali Moos in the first inning, and the Gophers never recovered in a 5-0 loss at the University of Maryland.
First baseman Megan McDonough had a double, triple and three RBIs for the Warriors, who extended their winning streak to 42 straight games in capturing their second straight state title.
"That first inning hurt a little bit, but we did a pretty good job after that of settling down and getting the outs," Glen Burnie coach Doug Schreiber said. "You take that first inning out of play, and it's a tight ballgame all the way down to the wire."
The Gophers, who finished 16-7 following a 2-5 start to the season, managed just four hits — all singles — against Sherwood pitcher Meggie Dejter. Twice they put two runners on base, including second and third with two outs in the third inning, but each time they failed to come up with the key hit.
Dejter finished with 10 strikeouts.
"We had a few hits in there. Just not enough," Schreiber said.
Sherwood (21-0) took the early lead by sending eight batters to the plate in the first. After drawing consecutive walks to start the inning, the Warriors took a 1-0 lead on Nicole Stockinger's RBI single to left field.
A batter later, McDonough took Moos' inside fastball deep to the gap in right-center field, driving in two more runs.
"I definitely like the inside pitch," McDonough said. "That's an awesome pitch to drive, and that's where I hit it [the right-center field gap] both times."
Though Moos settled down to retire the side, the damage was done.
"It just made us more confident. More relaxed in the game," McDonough said.
Said Sherwood coach Pat Flanagan: "We like getting out on top, because when Meggie gets a couple runs, she's tough to come back on."
Dejter entered the game with an ERA under 1.00, helping Sherwood outscore opponents, 50-4, in its five playoff wins.
Outcome aside, Schreiber said his players savored Glen Burnie's first trip to the state final since 1998, particularly the ride that got them there.
"The journey was awesome," Schreiber said. "Sometimes you don't end up where you think you want to get, but enjoy the journey. I think we did that this year."
Class 4A final
(at University of Maryland)
Glen Burnie 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 0 4 3
Sherwood 3 0 0 0 1 1 x – 5 8 0
Moos and Pleasant; Dejter and Harrison. 2B: S-McDonough. 3B: S-McDonough.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun