Broadneck pitcher Ally Thompson strikes out 15 to lead Bruins to 1-0 victory over Severna Park on Tuesday afternoon.
It took a little small ball early and a dominating pitching performance from senior Ally Thompson late, but Broadneck got the statement victory it was looking for on Tuesday against rival Severna Park.
The Bruins scratched across a run in the bottom of the first inning when Kierstyn Hassler led off with a walk and then later slid home safely on a double steal. And that, as it turned out, was all Thompson needed.
The Bruins' ace struck out 15 batters — one shy of her own program record— and allowed just five hits in a 1-0 victory that helps keep Broadneck (7-2 county, 9-3 overall) just one game behind first-place Arundel in the league standings.
"It wasn't our best game hitting, but you get in these games against a rival and you take a win any way you can get it. We have a lot of respect for their program, so this was a big one for us even if it wasn't pretty," Broadneck coach Deanna Romeo-Hamilton said. "I thought we did the little things well and then Ally was absolutely lights out."
Thompson had it all working against the Falcons, hitting the corners and taking advantage of a curveball and screwball that had a lot of movement. And when she did get into trouble, like in the top of the first and fourth innings when Severna Park (7-3, 8-4) loaded the bases, she made the big pitches she needed to.
"I was just trying to focus on one batter at a time because they have some really strong hitters at the top," Thompson said. "I knew if I kept them off the bases, and just worked low and tried to stay away, [I would be OK]."
Thompson seemed to get better as the game wore on, allowing just one base runner after the fourth inning. She struck out the side in the sixth and then closed things out with a 1-2-3 seventh as well. That final frame included a leaping catch by Thompson from her pitcher's position and then a strikeout to end the game.
Severna Park coach Meredith McAlister said that the struggles at the plate that her team had in a 1-0 loss to Leonardtown over the weekend carried over against the Bruins.
"We left nine on base today and the bottom line is we just have to do a better job of putting the ball in play," McAlister said. "We had 15 strikeouts and that just doesn't put any pressure on the defense, especially in situations where there were less than two outs and runners in scoring position. It was the same thing the other day, where we had 18 strikeouts. So we know what we need to work on."
Severna Park had threatened to get on the board early, as Campbell Kline (3-4) led the game off with a single, stole a base and moved to third following a walk and a hit by pitch. But with the bases loaded and two outs, Thompson induced a slow grounder up the first-base line to get out of the inning unscathed.
Then in the bottom of the frame, Hassler led off with a walk to set the stage for the game's only run. She moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and then to third on an infield hit by Thompson. As Thompson attempted to steal on the next pitch, Hassler waited for the throw to go down to second and then immediately sprinted home.
"We know that every single run counts, and it doesn't matter how or when you get it. Especially when you're going up against a good pitcher like we were today, you have to take advantage when the opportunities present themselves," Romeo-Hamilton said. "I had one of my smartest base runners on third and she knew that if they go after [Ally] when she steals, then to just go. The only reason that worked was because she didn't hesitate and that ended up being the difference."
Broadneck finished with just three hits. Aside from Thompson, Julia Harrison and Madison Chadwick each registered singles against Severna Park pitcher Marissa Heuer.
Heuer had her own standout effort in the pitching circle, finding her command after issuing three walks in the first two innings to finish with six strikeouts and just seven runners reaching base. Ultimately, though, the Falcons' offense just never broke through.
"Marissa did find her rhythm by about the third inning and then you saw the Marissa that we all know. Unfortunately, those early walks proved costly," said McAlister, whose team has now lost all four of its games this spring by a single run. "But, yeah, we talked to them today about being positive and staying positive. We need everyone to be thinking about the team and what they can do to help the team win, not necessarily what's going to help their individual stats. That's what it's going to take to move forward from here."
As for Broadneck, heading into a week that still includes road games against South River and Arundel, Thompson said this win was exactly what the team needed.
"The next three games are really tough for us, so we just need to focus on each game and not worry about what's ahead … take it one game at a time," she said. "But this is like our first big win, so this momentum is huge."