River Hill softball gets standout pitching, defense on way to victory over Mt. Hebron that secures two-game lead in county standings.
After an opening month of the season where the top of the county was tightly bunched, River Hill all of a sudden finds itself comfortably in the driver's seat.
Behind a shutdown pitching performance from senior Kristy Selby and some opportunistic offense, the Hawks knocked off Mt. Hebron on Saturday afternoon, 3-1, to now sit alone in first place by a full two games.
River Hill coach Marni Rosenbaum still isn't even thinking about a county championship, but has been extremely pleased with her team's ability to handle everything that's been placed in its path thus far.
"The first half of the season has been difficult in regard to the rainouts … I mean this here was the third time we were trying to get this game in with Hebron. But no matter what, these girls have been showing up every day ready to play," Rosenbaum said. "I told the girls out there that I don't know if Mt. Hebron was looking past Reservoir when they lost yesterday, but I told them I don't want that happening to us. All I care about is whoever is next on the schedule.
"I know people suddenly want to talk about the county title and all that, but that's the last thing on my mind. There's a lot of season left and anything at any given time can happen to anyone."
The loss was the second straight for Mt. Hebron (6-2, 7-3), which dropped a 5-4 decision against Reservoir on Friday for the team's first county loss. That decision, combined with the loss to River Hill (7-0, 9-1), puts the Vikings in a three-way tie now for second place in the county with Glenelg and Howard.
"That Reservoir game was the perfect storm. It was the day before this game, (Reservoir) was coming off two straight losses, and we haven't been hitting the ball … that was a tough loss," Mt. Hebron coach Chuck Struhar said. "Today, though, I thought we played pretty well. We matched them hit for hit and, after a little bit of a rough first inning, Evvie (Buehlman) settled down and pitched a great game for us against a good hitting team. They just capitalized on a few more opportunities than we did."
Mt. Hebron came out hitting the ball hard. Rylee Kinsella drilled a lead-off double and then, two batters later, Maddie Bennett moved her over to third with a single. That allowed an RBI groundout from Rachel Cadigan to make it 1-0 in favor of the Vikings.
But Selby, who finished the day allowing just seven hits, settled down to get out of the inning without any further damage.
"The first hit was kind of a miscommunication that I just kind of wiped off and made sure that didn't happen again," Selby said. "And my defense proved really early on that they were going to be behind me the whole game, so that definitely helps going through the innings."
The River Hill offense answered right back in the bottom of the first, with Courtney Colosimo leading off with a single and Kristy Selby adding a bloop single two batters later to extend the inning. That allowed the Hawks to get a couple runs in without another hit, as a handful of wild pitches and an error led to River Hill grabbing a 2-1 advantage.
Small ball again worked in the Hawks' favor in the fourth inning when Kallan Dirmeyer led off with a single and then, after a couple walks to load the bases, she ended up scoring when Colosimo was hit by a pitch.
"We talked about how this game was going to come down to the little things: a bunt, running out every single play, smart base running and hustle. The passed balls were obviously huge for us, but when you are facing a pitcher that's dominant like that you have to take advantage of everything in front of you," Rosenbaum said. "We did a solid job of putting the ball in play and giving ourselves baserunners."
Mt. Hebron's Buehlman overall allowed just five hits and struck out nine, with only one of the three runs against her earned.
But for Selby, who finished with four strikeouts of her own, and the River Hill defense, the three runs turned out to be plenty.
Selby made big pitches in big spots, including getting out of a bases loaded jam in the third without any damage. It certainly helped having several diving plays from Kinsey Johnson and Jalyn Cox on the left side of the infield to halt rallies.
Johnson, for example, had all three putouts in the fifth inning, including a running catch down the line.
"Kristy is one of those pitchers, where I think she likes the high pressure," Rosenbaum said. "Looking back to a couple years ago in the Northern game in the playoffs, it was the same thing. I could tell she wanted that ball in her hand today. She pitched tremendously and when they did put the ball in play, her defense was ready."
Senior pitcher Jenny Mathews got her second win of the season and contributed a big day at the plate by going 3-5 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI. Senior centerfielder Danielle Dolbow also stood out with a 3-4 effort at the plate with a run and 2 RBI.
The highlight of the game was junior Caitlyn Burmester hitting a two-run home run to left field. Burmester finished 2-2 with two runs scored and 3 RBI. Other notables for Atholton were senior Amanda Petersen (1-2, 3 walks, 3 Runs, RBI), sophomore Allison Orlosky (2-5, run, 3 RBI), sophomore Bethy Medina (2-4, 2 runs, walk and RBI), senior Kay Prince (2-4, 3 runs, 3 RBI) and freshman Patty Drumheller (2-4, 2 runs, walk and RBI).
Wilde Lake got its run in the fifth after threatening in the second and fourth innings. There were hits for each of the team's four seniors: Amber Love (1-2, double, run scored) Mekayla Tucker (1-3), Cierra Lester (1-3) and Tiarra Brown (1-3). Freshman Kayleigh Gladden also picked up her first varsity hit.
Senior Erin Riggin drove in the lone run for Wilde Lake.