Experience can’t be overrated. The Patterson Mill Huskies softball team proved on Friday it can’t be taken for granted.
The Huskies got five hits, including two triples, and six RBIs from Kenzie Knight, and scored seven runs in the third inning en route to a 17-7 victory over host Francis Scott Key in a Class 1A state quarterfinal Friday.
Patterson Mill (18-3) is a perennial visitor to the state tournament. The Huskies finished as 1A runner-up last season and won the state title in 2021. Francis Scott Key (19-3) was making its first appearance in the state tournament since 1991.
The Huskies will advance to Tuesday’s state semifinals at the Bachman Sports Complex in Glen Burnie against North Dorchester.
“The ball was just coming off the bat today and it felt really good,” Knight said. “The energy of our team today was really amazing. We play for each other and it showed.”
FSK pitcher Jasmine Kline, who threw 210 pitches in an 11-inning regional championship game against Liberty on Wednesday, allowed four hits over the first two innings, but kept the Huskies off the scoreboard. Unfortunately for the Eagles, that all changed in the third.
Kline hit Savannah Reedy with a pitch to start the inning, then gave up a single to Audrey March. Then Kelsey Price laid down a bunt, and the throw to first went over the first baseman’s head, which allowed Reedy to score. Lily Hofmeister singled to right centerfield to score March and Price for a 3-0 lead. As the inning progressed, Patterson Mill would add Lily Baldwin and Izzy Hiebler triples to run the margin to 7-0 by the end of the inning.
The Eagles did get a run back in the bottom of the inning when Emma Tawney singled to drive in Emma Taff. For the day, though, FSK was always playing catchup, but the Huskies just kept scoring. They added four more in the top of the fourth before Key responded with four of their own.
Patterson Mill eventually chased Kline from the game after the fourth.
“I think I was still trying to recover from Wednesday, but I was still a little tired,” Kline, a sophomore, said. “I tried to push as far as I could today, but I just got gassed.”
Patterson Mill has used a different formula to win this year, relying on a young, but powerful lineup, and a strong defense.
“All these kids, they’ve really bought into each other,” Patterson Hill coach Jeff Horton said. “It was a workmanlike effort, and they believe in our program and what we are doing.”
Asked if this team has what it takes to win the state title, Horton smiled and said he wasn’t ready to commit to anything but the next round.
“I’m a one-game-at-a-time kind of guy,” he said. “If we don’t win the next game, there won’t be a state championship.”
For FSK, the loss ends a season that saw them go undefeated in Carroll County and make a run deep into the playoffs. Coach Stephen Turner said he was proud of his team.
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“It was hard to put a finger on [what happened], but I’m sure a four-and-a-half-hour game on Wednesday didn’t help the girls’ rest coming into it,” he said. “We knew coming into this that Patterson Mill has all that playoff experience, so we knew they would have a better understanding of what was going on. I think seeing that now will put us in a much better spot going into next year.”
Patterson Mill 17, Francis Scott Key 7
PM 007 431 2 – 17 18 0
FSK 001 410 1 – 7 13 4
Baldwin, March (5), Miller (5) and Hiebler, Kline, Jackman (5) and Staab. 3B: PM – Knight 2, Baldwin, Hiebler. 1. 2B: PM – Reedy; FSK - Dehoff 2, Kenny, Taff.