The season hadn’t even officially started, and John Folfas already had a pretty good idea that his McDonogh softball team was going to be a contender in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference.
In three preseason scrimmages, the Eagles scored 42 runs while getting contributions from all 16 players.
“In those preseason scrimmages, everyone got some playing experience that built their confidence, which they carried into the season,” Folfas said. “This team could hit the ball and I felt that no matter how many runs we would give up in an inning, we could always come back.”
McDonogh, one of just two teams to defeat No. 1 Severna Park during the regular season, won its second A Conference title and first since 2001, beating Archbishop Spalding, 1-0, in the championship game on All-Metro first-team catcher Madison Gemmill’s two-out RBI single in the third inning. Kearstyn Chapman pitched a four-hit shutout.
Chapman, who struck out seven batters in the win over Severna Park, finished the season with 89 strikeouts in 84 innings, also batting .310 with three home runs and 14 RBIs. Batting fifth in the lineup, she combined with clean-up hitter Gemmill to give McDonogh a daunting middle of the order.
“We had a solid hitting lineup, top to bottom, a luxury most team don't have,” Folfas said. “They also believed in themselves and that no deficit was too big to overcome.”
The Eagles finished the season 10-5 and ranked No. 7 in the final Baltimore Sun Top 15 poll, navigating a tough nonconference schedule and the always-challenging A Conference. But thanks to the confidence-boosting preseason, Folfas’ players grew into a championship team.
“When I carry a large team, I like to give everyone a chance to contribute in some way and every single player helped us to the championship this year,” Folfas said.