As time goes on, teams begin to come together for one for one common goal — a state championship. That camaraderie was apparent for Sparrows Point softball on Tuesday in the 1A state semifinals, with the Pointers prevailing in a back-and-forth contest for a 5-4 victory over Henry E. Lackey.
Sparrows Point (11-10) has had an uphill battle to climb all season, featuring just three seniors on the roster and holding a record under .500 heading into the state playoffs. However, now the team will take on Bohemia Manor (21-1) on Saturday at the University of Maryland Softball Complex at 2:30 p.m. with a chance for the program’s first state championship.
“At first we were a little rocky,” senior third baseman Megan Hamp said. “We all played individually. We didn’t play together, we didn’t work together. It was just one person made the play, one person made the out. It was definitely the attitude, the coming together that got us to this point and helped get us where we are.”
That same willingness to play together was on display on Tuesday, where Sparrows Point trailed Lackey multiple times. It all began when Lackey’s Madison Furman plated Danielle Monopoli on a one-out single in the first inning. Sparrows Point would claw back to tie the score in the top of the fourth inning when Ava Johnson’s single scored Alyssa Shiflett to tie the game at 1-1.
The teams continued to trade blows, with Lackey scoring on a Morgan Berry double in the bottom of the fourth. After not scoring in the top of the fifth, Sparrows Point came back with a two-run home run by Hamp in the sixth inning.
The Pointers added two more runs in the top of the seventh inning with another two-run homer by Rachel Blankenship to increase their lead to 5-2.
“It was really important to me because I knew we all wanted it, we all wanted to go to states, we wanted to win for our seniors and we wanted to keep going — we didn’t want to stop yet,” Blankenship said of her homer. “So, knowing that we could have that extra cushion to support if they did score. It felt good to be able to add to it.”
Things got bumpy for Sparrows Point starting pitcher Karen Fritzges in the seventh inning. Lackey catcher Madison Kuhn lined a one-out double, followed by a Shelby McBain single. Kuhn would then score on an error and Morgan Berry drove in McBain on a groundout.
With Lackey’s Emma Shumpert at-bat, though, Fritzges was able to induce a pop out to end the game.
“When I’m pitching, I’m trying to forget the last play and keep my composure and just keep moving forward because it’s not about the last batter, it’s the next one,” said Fritzges. “So, keep that mentality and just try and get the next one instead of the last one.”
“Getting down in the count and then hitting home runs with two strikes — both of those batters — is special because they gave everything that they had and they didn’t give up,” said Vickery. “When they got down in the count, they didn’t give up.”