MANCHESTER — Manchester Valley responded to some adversity during its sectional final matchup with county foe Westminster, when the Mavericks trailed early but roared back to oust the Owls and advance to the regional championship.
Linganore put Man Valley in a similar position Friday, and once again the Mavs responded. But the Lancers had their own answer, one that proved too much to overcome. The home team came up short in the Class 3A West final and lost 8-5, missing out on making its first trip to the state tournament in four years.
Manchester Valley (15-6), this year’s Carroll County Athletic League champion, needed a rally to get past Westminster on Wednesday. As as been the case most of the spring, its bats got hot at the right time.
So when Linganore (14-6) struck first with a three-run fourth inning, the Mavericks didn’t let the momentum swing too far.
“I had confidence. We’ve done it so many games before,” said pitcher Stephanie Barksdale, who helped herself by smacking a two-run double in MV’s half of the frame.
Man Valley took advantage of two errors and drew even at 3-3. But the Lancers weren’t done.
Delaney Ridgell’s fly ball to deep left deflected off an outfielder’s glove and over the fence for a three-run home run, giving Linganore a 6-3 lead. Claire Thomas added an RBI single, and the Lancers led by four.
“I think they came back with their determination,” said MV shortstop Kassidy Johnson. “And they came back with their bats.”
Johnson’s RBI double in the fifth pulled the Mavericks to within three, but Linganore pitcher Jenna McLain steadied herself. She finished with six strikeouts and got out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh with Man Valley scoring only one run.
Thomas had three hits and Paige Wilhelm hit a triple for Linganore, which won its seventh regional title and second in three seasons.
Barksdale got through three innings and kept the ball in the infield before the Lancers broke through. Emily Day’s fly out to center brought in their first run, and McLain came through three batters later with a two-out double to left.
Man Valley didn’t back down despite the deficit. Jazzmyn Gouge’s single in the seventh kept the Mavs’ rally going, and Jacquelyn Gouge’s fielder’s choice brought in a run with two outs. Linganore walked Johnson, who had two hits, to load the bases before Gouge send a grounder to third baseman Annabelle Stone.
Stone threw home for what looked to be the final out, but the umpire called pinch-runner Mary Stroup safe — he ruled Ridgell, the catcher, didn’t have her foot on the plate in time.
Manchester Valley had the winning run at the plate, but McLain induced a fly out to right and the Lancers prevailed.
Barksdale is one of the Mavericks’ two seniors, and she was emotional following the loss. But Man Valley featured a handful of freshmen throughout the season. Many of them played roles in the Mavs’ county title run — they went 12-0 in CCAL play and put together a seven-game winning streak along the way.
“We all decided we were going to be a family this year,” said Barksdale, who totaled a county-best 137 strikeouts this season. “We worked really, really hard on all coming together as one.”
Linganore 000 340 1 — 8 12 2
Man Valley 000 310 1 — 5 5 1
L-Jenna McLain and Delaney Ridgell; MV-Stephanie Barksdale and Shelby Davis. 2B: L-McLain; MV-Kassidy Johnson Barksdale. 3B: L-Paige Wilhelm. HR: L-Ridgell. WP: McLain. LP: Barksdale.