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Howard hosts River Hill in a Howard County softball game on Monday afternoon

In a season full of lengthy layoffs and soggy fields, the River Hill softball team hasn't let distractions impact its focus during the opening month this spring.

Continuing its undefeated start to Howard County play on Monday on the road against Howard, in the team's first action in a week because of rainouts, River Hill (4-0, 6-1) scored early and often en route to a convincing 8-1 victory over the defending-county-champion Lions (5-1, 7-2).

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"During the week we were just prepping, over the weekend prepping, getting our mindsets ready because it's one game at a time at this point. We can't be thinking too far into the future," said River Hill catcher Sara Mascone, who went 2-4 with a home run. "So it was nice to see the team coming out and playing hard from pitch one (today). I think the first couple innings are really important to establish solid defense, make sure we are getting the bat on the ball, making good contact and seeing the pitcher."

River Hill wasted little time establishing the tone against the Lions, as Courtney Colosimo led off with a single up the middle. A handful of walks and a couple outs later, Emily Hazzard came up with the bases loaded and delivered a double into the gap in right center field to give the Hawks a quick 2-0 lead.

For pitcher Sabrina Curtiss, who scattered six Howard hits, struck out four and allowed just a single run that came in the fifth inning, it turned out the early cushion was all she would need.

"It's huge when you go out and get the lead, because then after that when they get somebody on base it's not be all, end all," River Hill coach Marni Rosenbaum said. "Confidence wise, you could tell everyone really was settled in right away."

After allowing the initial two runs, Howard did settle in defensively. The Lions held the Hawks to just a single hit and no runs between the second and fourth innings.

The problem was that Howard was unable to get its own offense going during that stretch. On the day, there were no Lions that finished with more than one hit and all six of the team's batters that reached base were courtesy of singles.

Curtiss was able to hit her spots all afternoon, inducing a half dozen lazy pop ups in the infield. She had four 1-2-3 innings, including both the sixth and seventh frames to close things out.

"You have to give River Hill a lot of credit. In my opinion, they have the best team in the county at this point because they have been the most consistent," Howard coach Chuck Rice said. "In terms of today, we just didn't do the things we needed to do. We didn't field like we needed to and offensively we just never adjusted to (Sabrina's) style of pitching."

River Hill's offense kicked back into high gear in the fifth inning. Colosimo led off with a walk and then Mascone came up and drove a ball over the fence in left center field to increase the lead to 4-0.

"I just needed to wait on the ball, which is a problem I have. I just thought keep my hands back, stay through the ball and things happened," Mascone said.

The Hawks took advantage of a couple errors and some smart base running to tack on another couple runs in the fifth to push the lead to six.

Then, after Howard plated its first run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, River Hill added another two in the sixth. Kallan Dirmeyer's RBI single was among the highlights of the inning.

The win for River Hill leaves the Hawks and Mt. Hebron as the last two undefeated county teams. With all the postponed contests so far, there are going to be a lot of four-game weeks ahead and Rosenbaum says focus is going to be as important as ever.

"I think for us, we've just been dying all year to get on the field. These girls live to play games," she said. "They are ready to go and I think experience is something that really helps in this case, where maybe we don't need as many practices in between games as maybe a younger team might."

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On the other side, Howard's Rice says the quick turnaround games on the horizon mean that there is no time to dwell on defeats.

"It is definitely a learning mark for us and the thing I told the girls is we have to just throw this game away. There is so much more ball to be played," Rice said. "It's still just one loss in the county and a lot of time left to improve on our mistakes."

River Hill 8, Howard 1

123 456 7        R-H-E

RH      200 042 0        8-7-1

Ho       000 010 0        1-6-5

Other scores:

Mt. Hebron 12, Centennial 0

Maddie Bennett did a little bit of everything to lead the way to the shutout victory for the Vikings. The senior threw six shutout innings and went 4-4 at the plate with a double, triple and 3 RBI.

"Maddie is pitching so well right now. She is walking few batters and she is letting her defense make plays. Right now, she is at the top of her game, both offensively and on the mound," Mt. Hebron coach Chuck Struhar said of Bennett, who has not given up a run in her three county wins.

Mt. Hebron got rolling in the first inning by putting three on the board, as Evvie Buehlman led off with a double and then Bennett and Stephanie Bluhm later delivered singles to plate the runs. The Vikings proceeded to get three more in both the second and third innings. Meghan Holquist (four hits on the day and 4 RBI) delivered a big double in the third.

In the sixth inning, when Mt. Hebron scored its final three runs, Bennett led off with a triple and went on to score along with Kathryn Diaz and Paige Mallin.

Defensively, Rachel Cadigan helped turn two double plays.

On the other side, Centennial's Jordan Burk led the way with a 2-3 day. On defense, the Eagles turned a double play with Jordan Ciraolo and Emily Allen. Catcher Sammy Kastner also caught a runner stealing.

123 456           R-H-E

MH     333 003           12-14-1

C         000 000           0-5-3

Atholton 12, Oakland Mills 5

Senior pitcher Jenn Mathews earned her first complete-game win of the season. Freshman Patty Drumheller led the team by going 3-4 with 2 runs, 2 stolen bases and an RBI. Other big days for the Raiders came from Amanda Petersen (2-4, double, run, 2 RBI), Allison Orlosky (2-3, 2 walks, 2 runs), Kay Prince (2-4, double, 2 runs, RBI), Danielle Dolbow (2-2, run, RBI) and Miranda Thompson (1-2, 2 walks, 2 runs, RBI).

123 456 7        R-H-E

A         251 301 0        12-13-2

OM     023 000 0        5-5-1

Glenelg 16, Hammond 3

The Gladiators exploded for 14 runs in the first two innings and cruised the rest of the way against the Golden Bears. In the second inning, when the team scored 10 runs, Glenelg got an RBI double from Alison Wilcox, a two-run double from Claire Swan, a three-run home run by Harly Fitterer a RBI double by Breanne Smith and an RBI single by Swan. On the day, Swan racked up four RBI on three hits.

Anna Turvin got the win for the Gladiators, allowing three runs over three innings and striking out two.

123      45        R-H-E

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G         4(10)0 02        16-14-2

Ha       003      00        3-4-8

Marriotts Ridge 25, Wilde Lake 1

The Mustangs scored four or more runs in every inning on the way to the lopsided victory. Romy Lindahl, Madison Pritchard and Emma Meininger all had doubles as highlights offensively, while Lindahl and Anna Geier split the pitching duties.

Wilde Lake got its run in the fourth inning, with Faith Leslie reaching on a hit by pitch and then Mekayla Tucker driving her in with a single. Tiara Brown also picked up a base hit for the Wildecats.

123 45             R-H-E

MR      454 57             25-13-0

WL      000 10             1-2-2

Reservoir 18, Long Reach 3

The Gators bats were hot on Monday, especially the duo of Anna Bennett (4-4, 2 doubles, 3 RBI and 2 runs) and Emily Wang (3-4, 2 doubles, 4 RBI and 3 runs). In total, Reservoir smacked 13 hits and used an 11-run fourth inning to break things wide open.

Monica Lamm added a 2-4 day, including a double, and also scored a team-high four runs.

Wang excelled at pitcher as well for the Gators, striking out six in five innings and allowing just three runs.

For Long Reach, Isa Carunungan paced the Lightning offense with a 2-3 day that included two doubles, an RBI and a run.

123 45             R-H-E

LR       102 00             3-7-7

Re        304 (11)x        18-13-2

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