The calendar hasn’t even reached April, but the softball coaches and players from Lansdowne and Catonsville were already talking the possibility of playing each other again after the visiting Comets defeated the host Vikings, 2-0, on Wednesday afternoon.
It was a classic pitcher’s duel between two rivals and two of the elite teams in Baltimore County.
That next meeting could only come on May 7, in the county championship game, if both teams get that far.
As she was leaving the field, Lansdowne senior catcher Bri Eiser told Catonsville head coach Steve McCleary, “See you at counties.”
McCleary had just told his own team the same thing, about seeing Lansdowne at counties, in the post-game huddle.
Catonsville senior pitcher Erin Kreis allowed five hits, while striking out 12 and walking none to earn the victory.
“I’ve been working a lot on working pitch to pitch and just focusing on strictly that pitch and not thinking about anything else,” said Kreis, who has not allowed a run in nine innings, while striking out 15 this season.
She pitched two innings in relief a day earlier in the Comets’ 12-0 season-opening win over Carver A & T.
Lansdowne freshman Dani Barklow was nearly as strong.
She scattered 12 hits and walked only one, while striking out three.
An interested spectator was Carey Jacobson, who has tutored both starting pitchers for several years.
“I just loved it,” Jacobson said. “The only thing I was hoping for was it was nothing to nothing until it got dark. This is the game I wanted to see.”
Kreis proved she meant business early, by striking out the side in the first inning, after allowing a one-out hit by Jasmine Schouster (2-for-4), and another base-runner when Eiser reached on an error.
She also fanned the final two batters in the second inning, first two in the fifth and struck out the side again in the sixth.
Kreis, who threw 127 total pitches, has pitched for the Comets for four years and made more noise with her bat.
Last year, she batted .501 with 17 RBIs and seven doubles.
McCleary has seen her pitch some gems against weaker foes, and when asked if this was her finest effort, he responded, “I would say it is, considering the moment and everything. She’s had games where she has beat people like that, but considering the game and the crosstown rivalry, that was the best.”
McCleary was equally enamored with Lansdowne freshman Barklow.
“I will say, that’s a good team over there and I will say, the freshman threw a helluva game,” McCleary said. “The senior catcher (Eiser), helps her and it’s a good combo to have. She is going to be good over there.”
Lansdowne coach Jamie Izdebski Hedges, whose squad opened the season with an 18-2 win over Kenwood, was equally impressed with her own battery.
“Bri called a great game,” Hedges said. “We went into it and Bri and Dani already had a game plan of what they were going to work on and Bri set her up and she pitched a great game, for being a freshman.”
Catonsville has its own talent at catcher, where junior Deanna Delaney resides.
“Deanna called a fantastic game and I have a lot of confidence in my fielders behind me,” Kreis said.
The most impressive fielding gems came from the gloves and howitzer-like arms of freshman third baseman Ally Lemerise (2-for-4) and sophomore shortstop Amber McDevitt.
“The left side of our defense played really well,” McCleary said.
Several of Catonsville’s hits were well-struck, but Lansdowne’s defense was relentless.
“Defensively, we were sound,” Hedges said. “They left a lot of girls on base. Tatum (Barrass), at short, did a fantastic job, Bobby (Bosley) at third was phenomenal. Now, we’ve just got to get our bats going because I can see us playing Catonsville again come counties.”
Several of Catonsville’s hits were solidly-stroked, but they struggled to get clutch ones.
They got hits from Delaney (2-for-5) and sophomore Maddie Sampson (2-for-4) in the first inning, but they didn’t score.
Sophomores McDevitt (2-for-4) and Devyn Tracey got two-out hits in the second, but were stranded.
The Comets finally broke the ice with a run in the third inning.
Sampson led off with a single and was forced out at second on a grounder to Abby Schline at second base.
Junior Don’ya Truesdale singled to left and Lemerise walked to load the bases.
Barklow induced Kristina Dayhoff to ground to the mound and she got the force at home for the second out, but sophomore Sami Sisolak lined a sharp single to center field to plate Truesdale with the first run.
Neither team scored until the top of the seventh inning, when the Comets pushed across their second run.
Lemerise led off with a single and was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Dayhoff.
She moved to third on a Sisolak’s dying quail infield hit and scored on McDevitt’s bleeding spinner that took a left turn away from first baseman Morgan McLain for an infield hit.
“Sometimes the game has some luck to it as well and you never know when it’s going to be your side,” Hedges said. “I really look forward to hopefully seeing them again (in the county championship game).”
McCleary wouldn’t mind that either, especially if it’s a classic like this one.
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“I said to my team, ‘If you don’t want to be part of games like that, then you don’t like softball,’ because that’s what it was all about,” McCleary said. “Those games like that are phenomenal. Win or lose, they are great games to be a part of.”