Dave Barwick has every reason to exude the utmost confidence in his Dulaney softball team.
Their defense rarely falters, and in fact, you can tally the amount of errors committed all season on one hand. Though offense isn’t the focal point, they’ve averaged nearly 10 runs a contest through the first two weeks of the season.
And after Tuesday’s 6-2 win over Towson, the Lions remain unbeaten, chalking up eight straight wins to start the season.
“We feel like we can win almost anything out there,” Barwick said. “That’s the feeling of the team. But right now it’s one game at a time, staying focused.”
Another reason for the team’s confidence: When junior pitcher Akirra Pullen jams opposing batters with her low-and-inside signature pitch, and when sophomore Jenna Isaacson is rocketing line-drives up the gap, the Lions are one the state’s best.
Pullen tossed seven strong innings against the Generals, only giving up four hits and two earned runs while striking out six. Isaacson, meanwhile, went a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with four RBI and an inside-the-park home run.
“We have some games when we slug the ball all over the place, which wasn’t one today, but on top of that, we don’t make mistakes in the field,” Barwick said. “That’s why we win. … I said it yesterday to the girls, this is the best defensive team I’ve ever had. They gelled right away and they know each other on the field, practice hard. They just know what each other are going to do. And if they have trust, that’s what it’s all about.”
Pullen retired the first nine Towson batters before surrendering her first hit of the afternoon in the top of the fourth inning, where she allowed one of her two runs. Outside of the seventh inning, where she yielded her second and final run and stranded two Towson runners to slam the door on a rally, she never found herself in trouble.
Of the 27 batters Pullen faced, only five balls left the infield and 10 of her 21 outs were on the ground.
“It’s very assuring, knowing I have a [defense] behind me,” Pullen said. “I can just pitch the ball and they’ll field it.”
In the top of the second inning, Pullen put Dulaney on the board, 1-0, with a moonshot that carried well over the left-centerfield fence. After Hope Eckhart hustled out an infield single, Isaacson beam-lined a shot up the middle that skirted past the Towson outfield, and then put on the burners for her two-RBI inside-the-park home run. The sequence pushed Dulaney’s lead to 3-0.
“I knew as soon as the ball went under her glove, I was going home,” Isaacson said.
After Pullen drew a walk and Eckhart reached base on another infield single, Isaacson smashed a two-RBI double off the left field wall that swelled the Lions’ cushion to 5-0 in the top of the fifth inning.
“She gets it done,” Barwick said of Isaacson. “And she’s fast. So it works out for us.”
For Dulaney, Tuesday was another stepping stone on the road to redemption and eagerly trying to avenge their 8-0 loss to Sherwood in the 4A North regional final last year.
“That’s what we’re trying to do,” Barwick said. “Those pitchers up there, when you get into Montgomery County, down to Severna Park, those pitchers throw the ball so hard and they have so much movement, you have to be quick to the ball.”
Towson, which falls to 3-3 on the season, will look to bounce back when they take on Hereford on Thursday. Generals’ starter Jessie Leatherwood went a full seven innings, allowing seven hits and striking out three. Out of the six runs scored against her, three were earned. Towson also committed three errors.
“We were making contact today, but we weren’t able to string any hits together to get a rally going,” Towson coach Lindsay Karsos said. “We need to take care of the ball. Jessie had three earned runs. We had a couple overthrows, just the ordinary throws we missed.”