Atholton wasted little time establishing the upper hand on the road Wednesday afternoon against Hammond.
The Raiders scored eight times in the first two innings, including batting through the order in the second, and rode that cushion the rest of the way to a convincing 12-4 victory that improves the team to 3-0 in county play on the year.
Atholton coach Ed Holshue, who is in his first year with the program, says these first few weeks have been important in terms of the team gelling and gaining momentum.
"Winning builds confidence and once the kids start believing we can win, they stop paying as much attention to what the name on the shirt is," Holshue said. "Hammond is not a bad team, they can hit the ball, so today was good for us. But we also know that we are about to hit a really tough stretch in our schedule next week and the hope is that we can carry some of what we've done so far into those games."
Atholton (3-1 overall) kicked things off in the top of the first with a leadoff triple from Patty Drumheller, a single by Allison Orlosky (4-5, RBI) and then a double from Bethy Medina to jump out to a 2-0 lead.
Then, after escaping a bases loaded jam in the bottom half of the first, the Raiders were back at it in the second with six more runs. The same trio at the top of the line-up again delivered hits in the second inning to provide a spark, with Caitlyn Burmester also adding a bases-clearing hit as well.
"Some things we've done to prepare and get ahead early has been always supporting one another. Even when things don't go as well, we pick each other up so that they are confident for the next time," said Medina, who finished the day a perfect 5-for-5 at the plate with a pair of doubles and three RBI. "We have a lot of girls who are capable of getting hits and that helps a lot too."
Atholton added its ninth run in the top of the third on a RBI hit by Miranda Thompson.
Then, in the bottom of the third, Hammond got on the board with a pair of runs. Taylor Liguori (2-3, walk) and Emily Dowdall (2-2, 2 walks) each got on base before Sophie Baldwin hit a single to drive both of them in.
But after that third inning, Atholton's Drumheller regained control in the pitching circle. She allowed just one base runner apiece in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings and racked up plenty of strikeouts along the way. The sophomore finished with 10 strikeouts on the day.
"Patty does a nice job of managing the game. She's not a blow away pitcher, she has to rely on different pitches and locations, but she does a pretty good job with that," Holshue said. "And we also tell her to trust her defense, because she's got a really solid infield there behind her."
Atholton, meanwhile, tacked on insurance runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Orlosky scored two of those runs, while Burmester came across the plate with the other.
Hammond showed some late fight with its final two runs in the bottom of the seventh, as Liguori and Dowdall each singled and scored, but ultimately was unable to get any closer than the final 8-run margin.
Other notable efforts in the loss for the Golden Bears came from Kelly Smith (2-4) and Amanda Weirich (double, RBI). Also, defensively, the team turned two double plays to help get out of innings.
For the Raiders, the team is excited about the hot start but is also being careful not to get ahead of itself. Atholton has games against Centennial, Mt. Hebron and Glenelg on tap for next week.
"We are trying to be both confident and humble. A win like this today is obviously great, but we can't start thinking we are better than anyone," Medina said. "We have to just keep remembering that we have to compete to the fullest in every game and if we do that then I think we can keep this going."
Howard capitalized on 12 hits, along with 10 total walks to do its damage. After facing off against non-county foes Arundel and Bishop McNamara, suffering tight losses in both contests, Howard coach Chuck Rice said his girls were more than ready for what they were going to see against the Vikings.
"We had seen quality pitching and that definitely helped today," Rice said. "We were getting hits from the very beginning, we just weren't getting the timely hits until that third or fourth inning. The girls got their timing and then after that every girl on the team was hitting the ball hard."
Shayna Gordon (3 hits, 3 runs scored and 2 RBI), Steph Yarrish (3 runs scored) Emma Braswell (3 hits, 4 RBI) and Hanna Kavalsky (2 hits and 2 runs scored) all had big days at the plate.
For as good as the hitting was, though, Rice said the real star of the game was his pitcher Ally Wieman. She allowed just three hits — the one by Cadigan and two by Rylee Kinsella — and struck out six in her six innings of work.
"Ally stepped on that mound, brought her 'A' game and really shut them down," Rice said. "I give all the credit to her for having her number called today and really delivering. She showed what she is capable of out there."
123 456 R-H-E
MH 001 000 1-3-3
Ho 001 244 11-12-0
Marriotts Ridge 9, Centennial 4
The Mustangs took advantage of their opportunities, scoring three runs apiece in the first and third innings to grab the lead, and earned a key road victory.
Centennial, which finished with a total of five errors on the day, had grabbed the lead in the bottom of the second inning with four runs. Emily Allen had the big hit in the frame with a bases-clearing triple.
But Marriotts Ridge answered right back in the top of the third with three more runs of its own to grab a lead it never lost the rest of the way. The Mustangs added insurance with a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh.
Jordan Stepke, who drove in two runs in the seventh inning, and Molly Meininger (double) were among the offensive standouts for Marriotts Ridge. Makenzie Hockensmith made four putouts in centerfield late in the game, while Mikayla Barnard finished with seven strikeouts at pitcher for Marriotts Ridge.
Emily Davis also had a solid day in the loss for Centennial, going 2-2 and scoring a run.
123 456 7 R-H-E
MR 303 001 2 9-10-0
C 040 000 0 4-5-5
Reservoir 13, River Hill 0 (5 innings)
The Gators scored in every inning and got a nice outing from pitcher Emma Bailey (7 strikeouts and 3 hits allowed in five shutout innings) en route to the shutout win over the Hawks.
Carly Clarke (2-3, double, 3 runs, RBI), Breann Smith (3-4, 2 RBI, run), Sophie Striegel (2-2, double, 2 runs, RBI), Hunter Little (1-4, triple, 3 runs, 2 RBI) and Abby Wang (1-2, double, RBI, run) all had big days at the plate for Reservoir.
123 45 R-H-E
RH 000 00 0-3-4
Re 414 4x 13-9-2
Long Reach 7, Oakland Mills 1
The Lightning got a no-hitter from Sayla Phillips in her first pitching appearance of the season on the way to improving to 2-1 in county play this spring.
Phillips added an RBI at the plate, while Naudiya Hopkins (2-4) and Isa Carunungan (3-4, triple, stolen base and 2 RBI) had big days of their own for the Lightning. Long Reach got four of its run in the third inning.
123 456 7 R
LR 104 011 0 7
OM 000 100 0 1
Glenelg 22, Wilde Lake 2
The Gladiators did all their damage in the first three innings, including 11 runs in the first to set the tone. Katie McIntyre racked up three RBI on four hits to pace the Glenelg offense.
Julia Chamberlain (3 RBI) and Emily Michalski (2-4, walk, 2 RBI, 2 runs) also had strong offensive efforts for the Gladiators. As a team, Glenelg had 10 hitters that combined for 19 hits, 20 RBI and 21 runs scored.
At pitcher, Gabrielle Browne of Glenelg gave up just two earned runs, struck out four and walked just one. She also went 2-4 with 2 runs scored on offense.
Wilde Lake got its two runs in the second inning, with Faith Leslie leading off with a single and later scoring on a RBI single from Sydney McNamara. Later in the inning, McNamara scored on a wild pitch.
Other highlights included the first varsity hits for the Wildecats' Sophia Hilger and Adanya Koger-Hobson.