Kayla Geho, Manchester Valley High School
Kayla Geho, Manchester Valley High School (staff / Carroll County Times)

Mike Hernandez called it a picture-perfect game.

The Manchester Valley softball coach's players just needed to gather themselves before Friday's game against Westminster to get there.

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"We played fantastic today," said Hernandez, whose team routed the Owls 11-1 in five innings. "Offensively, defensively, we were aggressive on both sides and our pitcher played a great game. The whole lineup knocked in runs and our running was great."

Mavs' junior pitcher Rachel Heron was all smiles standing inside the circle.

Despite striking out each time she went to bat, Heron gave up just two hits and struck out three Westminster batters in the Mavericks' victory.

The two-time reigning Class 1A state champions lost two-time Times Player of the Year Madison Grimm to graduation last year, which gave Heron the chance to filled that void for the Mavs in a big way.

"I think she's been doing great this year from not pitching at all last year when we had Madi," said senior Kayla Geho. "She's living up to Madi's standards and she's doing just as good as Madi did last year."

Lauren Vogel hit an RBI single in the first inning, bringing in one of the Mavs' four first-inning runs. With one out, Taylor Brown slammed a three-run triple that brought in Storm Smith, Geho, and Vogel.

Senior outfielder Kaitlyn Nicholson knocked one of the Owls' two hits of the game, and scored on a fielding error on the same play for their only run in the second inning.

From there, it was all Man Valley.

The Mavs (10-4, 8-3 county) scored three runs in the third and one in the fourth to put them up 8-1. After Sarah Ruiz ran home off Smith's RBI single, Geho's two-run double ended things early and secured the Mavs' second straight victory and 10th overall.

"If I know Storm is on base or Jessie [Swistock] is on base and if I get a nice slow blooper at the end like I just did, then they'll get to the home plate because they're fast and can run," Geho said.

Senior pitcher Emily Maseth had seven strikeouts for the Owls (8-4, 7-3), and Westminster assistant coach Amanda Lahner, filling in for coach Ashley Harford, said she's a force to be reckoned with.

Maseth ranks second in Carroll with 77 strikeouts behind Liberty's Lexi Trail.

"A few key hits from Man Val definitely set us in the wrong direction but we had problems stringing some hits together today," Lahner said. "That's definitely something we'll have to work on."

Smith had three hits and scored three runs for Manchester Valley, and Geho added to her county RBIs lead (she stands at 32).

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"We worked really well today," Geho said. "That saltiness came out [in pre-game] and we wanted to get it over and done with and play good together."

Hernandez has no problem with moving his lineup around. This way, every girl on his team has the chance to play a role at a different position to increase depth in the field. There's one particular thing the Mavs have focused on this year in support of that depth.

Hitting, hitting, and more hitting.

"Last year we had a dominant pitcher," Hernandez said. "We've brought our bats out this year and we're scoring runs every game we're in and if someone wants to beat us, they've got to score a lot more runs. We're very offensive-minded this year."

The Mavs face Winters Mill, North Carroll, and South Carroll next week to close out the regular season. Man Valley leads the Cowan Division but South Carroll (7-3) is close behind.

Westminster trails Liberty (11-0) in the Hersh Division.

The divisional winners meet for the county championship May 6.

"We're hoping for states again and it's very possible with what we're doing," Geho said. "Our pitching is good, our hitting is good and our fielding is there but the county championship is in our near future and that's what we're hoping for as well."

Westminster 010 00 — 1 2 1

Manchester Valley 403 13 — 11 10 1

W-Emily Maseth and Olivia Herman; MV-Rachel Heron and Jordan Diggs. 2B: MV-Kayla Geho. 3B: MV-Lauren Vogel, Taylor Brown. WP: Heron. LP: Maseth.

mwoodward@carrollcountytimes.com

410-857-7893

twitter.com/mwoodwardCCT

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