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Marriotts Ridge softball shortstop Jordan Stepke talks about the Mustangs' win Thursday, April 16, over the Hammond Golden Bears. (Brent Kennedy and Jon Sham/Baltimore Sun Media Group video)

It took a couple of narrow losses early in the season to get going, but the Marriotts Ridge softball team appears to be hitting its stride.

Building on a 10-run victory over Centennial a day earlier, the Mustangs scored early and often on Thursday en route to a 24-3 road victory over Hammond. The win makes it three in a row for Marriotts Ridge (4-3 county, 4-5 overall) and the team is now averaging over 20 runs a game during the winning streak.

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"I think that we've really come together as a team, gotten a lot closer and I think we're really just vibing off eachother," said Jordan Stepke, who finished 3-4 with a double, triple and 5 RBI against Hammond (1-5, 1-5). "Once someone started hitting, everyone started hitting and it kind of was just a domino effect. We are on a roll and I think we are going to keep it up."

Mustangs coach Karyn Curley says she feels the team has definitely turned the corner, noting the significance of getting above .500 in league play and the confidence that comes along with it.

"They are stoked to be above .500, that's one of the first things they told me out there after the game," Curley said. "This is only my second season as head coach, but I know in past seasons the goal has always been to just get to .500. So for us to be over right now is something the program hasn't seen in awhile. And I believe we have the talent overall to keep this going and reach our goal of finishing above .500."

Marriotts Ridge wasted little time getting going against the Golden Bears. The team sent 12 batters to the plate in the opening inning, smacking four extra-base hits and scoring nine runs.

A 3-RBI double by Stepke, along with a 2-run home run from Romy Lindahl (2-3, 3 runs scored, 3 RBI, triple and homerun) were among the highlights.

Hammond did answer in the bottom of the first, getting a 2-RBI double from Becky Straub that drove in Bethany Hewitt and Emily Dowdall to make it a 9-2 game.

But Marriotts Ridge never took its foot off the accelerator, scoring six more runs in the top of the second to push its lead to double digits. This time it was a pair of 2-RBI doubles from Abby Warman and Mikayla Barnard that did the heavy lifting.

The spread of offense was a common theme all afternoon. Marriotts Ridge ended up with at least one hit from each member of its starting nine.

"Everybody hits on our team. I tell them in the beginning of the season that 'if you want to play the field, you have to be able to hit.' I play the best nine hitters," Curley said.

The hits for Marriotts Ridge kept coming in the third (four runs) and fifth innings (five runs) to put the game away. The third inning was particularly impressive, as the Mustangs had one string of three straight triples from Molly Meininger, Stepke and Lindahl.

"We are always there to pick each other up," Stepke said. "When someone hits, you are like they did the work to get on base, I have to do the work to get them in."

At pitcher, Lindahl started and allowed the three runs in three innings while striking out two. Hammond had gotten its third run in the third inning when Caroline Goyne singled and later scored on a SAC-fly by Dowdall.

Anna Geier came in and pitched a scoreless final two innings for the Mustangs, striking out three along the way.

Marriotts Ridge is scheduled to close out the week against Howard on Friday, but moving forward Curley says the top priority is to be playing the team's best softball come playoffs.

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"This week, you can see it, our game is starting to click both mentally and physically," she said. "As a team we work toward peaking toward the end of the season so that we can hit the playoffs running, so this is the perfect time to start getting everything together."

Marriotts Ridge 24, Hammond 3

123 45             R-H-E

MR      964 05             24-17-0

Ha       201 00             3-5-5

Other scores:

Howard 8, Long Reach 3

The Lions capitalized on a five-run third inning and then pulled away late to secure the victory. The offense for Howard was led by home runs from Shannon Wiley and Berrit Batterton (2 RBI), but there were also big days from Brittany Bryson (double, triple), Kayla Devin (double, RBI), Stephanie Yarrish (double, RBI) and Shanya Gordon (double, RBI).

Katie Unkle got the win at pitcher, while Bryson picked up the save.

Isa Carunungan pitched for Long Reach, striking out six and walking one. She also had a single, two walks and 2 RBI. Rachel Jacavage had 2 singles, 2 walks and an RBI.

123 456 7        R-H-E

Ho       005 011 1        8-13-1

LR       200 100 0        3-6-2

Glenelg 2, Northeast 1

Anna Turvin was the star at pitcher for the Gladiators, tossing a complete game with three strikeouts and only one run against.

Glenelg got its first run in the second inning when Allison Wilcox crossed the plate on an errant pick-off attempt. The Gladiators then padded the lead in the fifth as Sharon Mielke, Wilcox and Claire Swan all produced singles. Swan got the RBI on a hit to right field.

123 456 7        R-H-E

NE       000 001 0        1-7-1

G         010 010 x        2-9-0

River Hill 10, Oakland Mills 0 (5 inn)

Kristy Selby and Sabrina Curtiss combined to throw a one-hitter, striking out five, walking one and hitting one batter. Sara Mascone led the offense by going 2-2 with two walks and three runs scored.

123 45             R-H-E

RH      314 20             10-6-0

OM     000 00             0-1-4

Centennial 4, Reservoir 3

A Sammy Kastner RBI triple that scored Josefine Jensen in the bottom of the fifth turned out to be the deciding run in the Eagles victory over the Gators.

Centennial had to battle through an early injury to Brita Hawtof, who was hurt scoring a run in the first inning, but the team showcased its versatility as several players moved around and put together a great defensive effort behind Jensen at pitcher.

"Losing Hawtof in the first inning was a big blow to us defenseively. Players had to move around, (but they) did a wonderful job in new positions," Centennial coach Katie Grimm said. "Celina Jensen had a great day defensively at second base to replace Hawtof. Emily Allen moved from first to shortstop and Carrie Strott came in to play first and recorded 10 putouts."

In that first inning, where Centennial grabbed a two-run lead, Jordan Burk (1-4, run) got on base to start things and Hawtoff followed with a walk. A RBI single by Allen then scored Burk and an RBI single by Josefine Jensen plated Hawtof, who collided with Reservoir catcher Anna Bennett on the play and had to leave the game.

With a two-run cushion, Josefine Jensen didn't allow a run until the third inning on an RBI single by Bennett that scored Monica Lamm. But Centennial quickly answered in its half of the third, as Emily Allen (2-3) led off with a single up the middle and later came around to score on an RBI single by Kastner (2-3, 2 RBI).

After a scoreless fourth inning, Reservoir ended up tying things up in the top of the fifth as Holly Daum led off with a walk and then Bennett followed with a single. Both would eventually come around to score on a single and fielder's choice, respectively.

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But, like they did all afternoon, the Eagles answered with Kastner's game-winning hit.

Centennial maintained its lead thanks to a great catch from Samantha Sterenberg in the sixth and then being able to work around a lead-off walk by Bennett in the seventh.

123 456 7        R-H-E

Re        001 020 0        3-6-0

C         201 010 x        4-7-0

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