Mt. Hebron at Atholton softball on Friday, April 21 at Atholton High School.
Sydney Rhodes knew all she had to do was keep her eye on the ball.
The pitch sank a little low, just where she likes to hit. Keeping her head down, she took a big cut and sent the ball sailing toward center field, clearing the fence and ending the game.
Rhodes' walk-off home run gave Atholton the 6-4 win over Mt. Hebron Friday and extended its winning streak to four.
"I really like low pitches, so I just knew if I got my eye on it and the bat on it at the perfect place it would definitely go flying," Rhodes said. "I kind of felt it. I knew something good would come out of this game. I knew even if we had lost, it was definitely a good game."
The Raiders (5-5 county, 5-6 overall) were in control for most of the day, but the Vikings (3-4, 3-5) showed their resiliency as they came back to tie in the top of the sixth and even take the lead in the seventh. But Atholton showed its own grit, shaking off an error-plagued sixth inning and a go-ahead home run in the seventh to climb back and complete the seventh-inning rally.
"Sometimes they get caught up thinking about that last play and then they take a back step. It's all about moving it forward, forgetting what just happened, reset, reboot and let's take care of business," said Raiders coach Susan Ericksen. "Depend upon each other, it's a team, it's a unit and they made me real happy. It's wonderful."
Atholton continued its hot play at the plate, registering at least one hit in every inning of the game. Bethy Medina was the catalyst, going 4-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored.
She hit one of her doubles in the third, and this time it resulted in points on the board.
Juliet Nierle got it started with a one-out single and was then moved over by Medina's double. Allison Orlosky platted both of them in the ensuing at-bat after striking a hard hit ball to short, which got past the infield to put the Raiders up, 2-0.
"We've been doing a lot of batter at Reaper's Den and I'll tell you, a lot of these young ladies are taking care of business lately with these hits," Ericksen said. "So I am very pleased."
Atholton was on the verge of adding to its lead in the following inning after Riley Law and Sydnee Ruley each hit singles to get on base to get back to the top of the order, but Rylee Kinsella did a nice job of stranding both runners.
Mt. Hebron had its chances early as well, but could not capitalize with runners in scoring position.
In the first inning Rylee Kinsella and Kieran Davis both got on base with one-out, but Raiders ace Patty Drumheller grounded out the next two batters to get out of the inning unscathed.
"[Drumheller] I thought pitched a nice game," said Vikings coach Mark Graydon. "She was putting the ball where it had to be and kept some of our hitters confused. But all in all I thought it was a great game. It could have went either way."
The game was delayed a half hour after some light rain and thunder hovered over the field. But when the game resumed play the Vikings' bats started coming alive, as they totaled six of their 10 hits in the final three innings after the rain delay.
"They fought back and never gave up. They kept their heads in the game the entire time even through the rain delay and that is tough to come out of a rain delay and still be sharp," Graydon said. "Rylee came back pitched a nice game, didn't really make many errors as far as leaving the ball out in front of the plate, but all in all I thought we are doing well."
Mt. Hebron tied the game at two in the sixth, taking advantage of several errors in the field by Atholton.
Davis got it started with a one-out single, and Eliza Munns followed with a hard hit ball toward Medina at short. With the slick conditions, Medina slipped trying to field the ball and couldn't make the throw to first, leaving both runners on with one out.
Ana Mosisa laid down a bunt on the following at-bat and an error on the throw not only allowed her a base, but scored Davis as well.
With Munns taking a big lead at third, Allie Orlosky, playing behind the plate, tried picking her off, but the throw went over the head of Colleen Simmerly and scored Munns to tie the game at two.
"We were just trying to get ourselves together again and just trying to our heads back in the game," Medina said. "Some of us, we were bobbling plays, especially me a little bit. We all just tried to do our best and said, 'All right, we got to do this. We can do it. We can beat them,' and that is kind of what we did."
Atholton quickly re-focused and took back the lead in the bottom of the inning. Law led off with a single and two batters later Sydnee Ruley brought her in after a deep shot to center field. Her RBI double gave the Raiders back the lead at 3-2 heading into the final inning.
Mt. Hebron started the seventh at the top of the order with Kinsella leading off with a double to get herself in scoring position. Meghan Holquist followed with a double to left, but a great throw by Medina and an even better tag from Orlosky got Kinsella out at the plate to preserve the lead.
But Kieran Davis didn't let the opportunity slip away. She stepped up to the plate and crushed a 2-run home run to deep center field, snatching the lead back for the Vikings.
"Kieran is a big bat," Graydon said. "We are putting ourselves in position late in the games to win ball games. We are keeping it close now. We just let this one get away. We're getting better and better. It was our ball game to win, but we just couldn't pull it off. We're a young team. We just got to make sure to make plays when it is our time to make plays."
Drumheller regrouped and limited the damage. She got the final two outs of the inning without conceding another run. The Raiders looked at a 3-2 deficit for the first time in the game heading into the final half inning, but that didn't deter them from making their own rally.
"We definitely stuck together and pushed through it all the way," Medina said. "I know it past games we kind of gave up, but this game really showed how we can come together as a team and push through it together."
Medina didn't even know what the count was. She just eyed Ericksen down the third base line and she gave her the signal. It was a bold move, especially after Medina already had three hits in the game. But with two strikes and no one on, Medina laid down a perfect bunt in front of the plate. She beat the throw to first and an over-throw allowed her to advance in scoring position with no outs.
"Apparently it was two strikes, which is never good," Medina said. "You never want to lay a bunt down with two strikes because there is a possibility of a foul you can be called out. But I don't know, I was up in the box and the pitch was really good, so things happen. You never know."
"I think that was a key piece, absolutely — in addition to the home run," Ericksen added. "We talked about it earlier and I said, 'you got to watch what signals you're getting.' I thought that was a good opportunity for her to do that because all of those other times she's trying to swing away. I said they haven't seen her do that yet, so let's do it, and she does it nicely and she got on base."
Orlosky came up clutch once more and platted Medina in the following at-bat, tying the game at four, while also giving Rhodes the opportunity to win it, and she delivered.
"She smacked it," Medina said. "She can carry a ball. She already hit one against Oakland Mills, I believe, that was a grand slam, and so we all have confidence in her that she can put it out there. She can send it over by very far. We had full confidence in her. It was really nice."
Drumheller earned the win for the Raiders, while striking out five and walking two. Nierle finished 2 for 4 with two runs scored, Law went 2 for 2 with a run and a walk and Ruley hit 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI.
"We're talking more about what the expectations are," Ericksen said. "We are talking more about the team philosophy and carrying us through, so it's been a really nice thing to watch. I hope it continues. I really do."
Kinsella struck out four and walked two in the loss. Davis led the way offensively, hitting 3 of 4 with two runs and two RBI, while Kinsella went 3 for 4 and Mosisa finished 2 for 4.
"Honestly, I thought Atholton played a better game. They came up with the plays when they had to and they hit when they had to," Graydon said. "I told them it was a good game. We just left too many people on base. I said when you come up to bat you just got to execute, hit singles, choke up and do the best you can as far as putting the ball in play so we can score. But all in all, they played a good game."
Atholton 6, Mt. Hebron 4
A (5-5 county, 5-6 overall), MH (3-4, 3-5),
MH — 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 4 10 4
A — 0 0 2 0 0 1 3 6 12 6
Pitching: MH — Kinsella and Holquist; A — Drumheller and Orlosky.
2B: MH — Kinsella, Holquist; A — Medina (2), Ruley.
HR: MH — Davis; A — Rhodes.
Around the league:
Howard 6, Hammond 4
The Lions defeated the visiting Golden Bears in a seventh-inning walk-off.
Howard trailed after the first inning, but gained the lead in the bottom of the third to get out in front 4-2.
Hammond scored three runs in the sixth to reclaim the lead at 5-4, but the Lions scored two in the bottom of the seventh to earn their eighth county win.
Brittany Brewer went 2 for 3 with two singles for the Golden Bears, while Bethany Hewitt went 2 for 4 with two singles.
Ho (8-2 county, 9-4 overall), Ha (5-4, 5-5)
Ha — 2 0 0 0 0 3 0 5 6 1
Ho — 1 0 3 0 0 0 2 6 8 3
Reservoir 15, Wilde Lake 2
The Gators put an end to a two-game losing skid Friday after defeating the visiting Wildecats in five innings.
Wilde Lake had runners in scoring position in the first-, third-, fourth- and fifth-innings, but was unable to push runs across the plate, except for two in the fourth.
Rachel Van Osdel and Kayleigh Gladden had hits in the inning. Stella Johnson and Jasmine Johnson each hit an RBI off of hard struck grounders. Sydney McNamara, Adanya Koger-Hobson, Jasper Killian and Faith Leslie also picked up hits in the game.
Emily Lloyd earned the win for Reservoir, giving up just three hits and two earned runs, while striking out three. She also led her team at the plate, going 3 for 3 with three runs and two RBI. Breann Smith went 2 for 3 with three RBI, while Emma Bailey went 2 for 3 with four runs and two RBI. As a team, the Gators totaled 16 hits in the outing.
Re (6-4 county, 9-4 overall), WL (1-8, 2-8)
WL — 0 0 0 2 0 2 6 2
Re — 2 4 4 5 x 15 16 4
Pitching: WL — Baird and Leslie; Re — Lloyd and Hatzakos.