For the second day in a row, Catonsville senior pitcher Sammi Sisolak pitched a shutout and nearly made history as the Comets prevailed over Walter Johnson, 3-0, in the Class 4A state softball quarterfinals.
One day after she retired the first 17 batters and allowed just two hits with no walks, while striking out 14 in 5-0 whitewash of Dulaney, Sisolak pitched a four-hitter with no walks and 15 strikeouts against the visiting Wildcats (10-4).
Catonsville (11-1) will host Northwest in the semifinals Wednesday at 4 p.m.
“It feels awesome,” Sisolak said. “I really missed out on the opportunity last year and I’m glad I get that opportunity this year with a great team and I can’t wait to come out tomorrow and throw my best again.”
First-year coach Paul Harris said he will be glad to put her back in the circle Wednesday.
“She is on fire right now,” he said. “We are going to keep riding her until we can’t anymore.”
Sisolak had eight strikeouts in the first three innings and didn’t allow a hit until a humpback liner to left-center field by Sammi Rosenberg. Sophia Lynch followed with a single in the 6-hole before Sisolak got cleanup hitter Brook Levin on a foul pop to first.
Walter Johnson added two more hits in the seventh, but Sisolak struck out the side to preserve the shutout.
“I knew I had the defense behind me,” she said. “The only real hits were the one between shortstop and third and the little bloopers in the outfield, so I knew no one was hitting me hard, so that didn’t get in my head and I knew they wouldn’t score.”
Sisolak relied on her rise ball as her out pitch and praised senior catcher Devyn Tracey for calling it.
“My catcher behind the plate, she calls great games all the time, I’ve got to give her most of the credit,” Sisolak said.
Tracey will play at Salisbury University next season.
Walter Johnson coach Richard Carter was impressed by the hard-throwing right-hander who will play next season at Cabrini University.
“They are really young and they don’t see a lot of pitching like that during the season,” he said. “Because of COVID, they had us in a POD, so we basically just played against the same teams. That’s the best pitcher we’ve seen all year.”
Just as they did against Dulaney the day before, the Comets manufactured their runs.
Tracey reached on an error, advanced to third on a hit by Ally Lemerise and scored on a groundout by Aysha Partin for a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
The Comets loaded the bases in the second when Abby Mitchell, Caelyn Voss and Tracey all got hits, but Maggie Kreis’ two-out rope to center field was right to Mackenzie Norris.
In the bottom of the third, the Comets added another run after a leadoff single by Lemerise and a two-out double to left-center by Sisolak.
“It’s good when I can boost my own confidence and hit for myself,” Sisolak said.
The Comets’ third and final run came on a rundown play that didn’t go as planned in the fourth inning.
Sam Rickwalder singled with one out, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch.
Tracey walked and continued toward second, intending to get into a rundown, but before she drew a throw from pitcher Rosenberg, Rickwalder took off for home.
The ball beat her, but she stepped over the tag attempt by Lynch.
“Usually, what we would like the runner on third to do is come down and kind of wait for that throw, but I’m proud of her, she took the initiative and the pitcher kind of looked away and she went for it and she got in there, which is good,” Harris said.
Sisolak’s no-hit bid was still intact at the time, but Harris was more concerned about the victory.
“We expect to give up a hit to good-hitting teams every now and again, it’s going to happen and as long as the defense falls in behind it like it did we are good to go,” Harris said.
Walter Johnson coach Richard Carter was just happy to stay in the game.
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“Catonsville’s defense is solid and we were not really going to do much against that,” he said. “I’m glad that they got a couple of hits at the end, it made it a little bit more of a challenge. They kept the score low, it could have got out of hand if we didn’t make a couple of plays here and there.”