Towson High seniors Jessie Leatherwood and Emma Kelly have been playing softball together since they were students at Dunbarton Middle School, and Tuesday afternoon, they helped the Generals win the school’s first Baltimore County softball championship since 1993.
Leatherwood, pitched a four-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts as the Generals (14-2) blanked Catonsville (15-4), 4-0.
Emma Kelly drove in two runs and Taylor and Brumagin drove in one for the winners in the game played at the Community College of Baltimore County, Catonsville.
“Me and Jessie have been playing together since middle school, so we’ve had a long time coming together and its so cool to watch, especially with both of us being seniors this year, it was really awesome and she had such a good game and she’s had such a good season this year, so it’s really fun to watch,” said Kelly, who got her clutch two-run single in the bottom of the third inning with two outs.”
The Comets and sophomore pitcher Sammi Sisolak nearly squirmed out of a bases loaded no-out jam in that inning.
After a bloop double to shallow left by Sydney Martin, Tyanna Butler doubled in the gap to right-center, with Martin stopping at third.
After Nicole Poling was intentionally walked, Sisolak knocked down a one-hopper off the bat of Brumagin and forced Martin at the plate with a throw to catcher Devin Tracey.
Leatherwood hit a one-hopper to first baseman Deanna Delaney and her throw to Tracey forced Butler at the plate.
That brought up cleanup hitter Kelly and she blooped a single behind first, just out of the out-stretched glove of diving second baseman Kristina Dayhoff.
“I was trying to go oppo [opposite field] on that ball because we had the bases loaded, but I was just going up with a clear mind trying to get a hit and it happened,” Kelly said. “I didn’t know (it was a hit), I wasn’t sure, it was pretty cool though. It was exciting and it was nerve-wracking, I was in a tough position.”
Towson coach Jon Salvino has seen enough softball to know it’s not always how hard you hit the ball, but where.
“It’s a funny game like that, sometimes the ball has to bounce your way and it did and that play was one of them, where it just found the hole and we are happy that it happened,” Salvino said. “That’s a credit to her, she got the bat on the ball against a tough pitcher and when you put the bat on the ball and put it in play, good things can happen.”
Sisolak pitched four innings and allowed five hits and senior Erin Kreis allowed two unearned runs in the final three innings.
Catonsville’s offense struggled putting the ball in play against Leatherwood, who had two strikeouts in five of the seven innings.
Catonsville’s hits came from freshman Ally Lemerise (2-for-3,) sophomore Dayhoff (1-for-3) and junior Delaney (1-for-3).
“She (Leatherwood) pitched an awesome game,” Catonsville coach Steve McCleary said. “It’s the best I’ve seen Leatherwood pitch in four years. We faced her a couple of times and she’s good anyway and she’s always given us trouble, but I thought she was tremendous today.”
Towson’s Salvino agreed.
“She knows going into it that she can throw strikes and if it gets put in play, we are going to make the plays and the girls behind her know that she is going to go out there and get the job done,” Salvino said. “She was wonderful today, absolutely wonderful.”
The southpaw slinging Leatherwood’s key was keeping the Comets off-balanced by changing speeds.
“It’s a curve ball and I to take a little off, that is like my go-to pitch like for any team, especially when it is working and it was really on today and I was throwing it for strikes which is very important,” said Leatherwood, who will play at Notre Dame of Maryland University next year, while her teammate, Kelly, will play at Stevenson University.
They still have some more work to do at Towson.
“We have a whole lot of motivation to keep it going, we have goals set for the playoffs and this is one of them, so we are just going for the next one,” Leatherwood said.
Salvino knows its just one of the postseason moguls they have overcome.
“We are so proud, we have talked about it since the beginning of the year, how we wanted to put the year 2019 up on our banner, counties, regionals and states,” he said. “Counties, this school hasn’t achieved that since 1993, and we’ve never achieved a regional final championship and we’ve never achieved the states, so this is just one of those three goals.”
The top-seeded Generals will open the regional playoffs in the Class 3A playoffs at home in the sectional semifinals against the winner of Milford Mill and Woodlawn.
They will not see second-seeded Catonsville, who will be in the Class 4A North Region sectional playoff, hosting the winner of Howard and Mervo in the sectional semifinals on May 13.
Salvino was not even thinking about the regionals after the win.
“We earned it, we talk about earning this and it’s not given to us when we play a team like Catonsville who is well-coached and as well-pitched as they are and great hitters and we came out and we played and awesome game today. They are very deserving,” Salvino said.
Meanwhile, McCleary will prime his team for the regional playoffs.
“I told them it’s probably been 10 years since Catonsville has been in this game, it’s been at least 2009, so they should be proud of that,” said McCleary, whose squad has one senior, three juniors, seven sophomores and a freshman.