Mt. Hebron senior Stephanie Bluhm talks about her team's win over Centennial softball on Thursday, March 24. (Brent Kennedy and Ulysses Munoz / BSMG)
Facing its first real test of the season on Thursday against Centennial, Mt. Hebron passed with flying colors in a 6-1 victory over the visiting Eagles.
"I tell you what that was a good win for us against a good Centennial team. I'm proud of this team," Mt. Hebron coach Chuck Struhar said. "You saw us play really good defense, we didn't let them hit many balls between Evvie (Buehlman) rolling along and then Rylee (Kinsella) coming on at the end there. And we got some timely hits to get us some runs."
Stephanie Bluhm went 3-for-3 at the plate with 3 RBI to pace the Mt. Hebron (2-0) offense, while Buehlman and Kinsella combined to strike out 13 and allow just two Centennial (1-1) hits.
Afterward Bluhm echoed the importance of getting this victory over an Eagles squad that had opened the season with a 10-0 win over defending county-champion River Hill.
"This was really important just because we know that Centennial is one of the better teams, so going into it I think we were all a little nervous just because we wanted to see how well we would do against a team that had more potential," she said. "I think we did really well. I think everyone focused even though we were a little nervous and showed that we were ready in the moments that we needed to be."
Mt. Hebron faced a gut-check moment fairly early on, following a top of the first inning where Centennial's Emily Allen staked her team to a quick 1-0 lead with a RBI double off the fence to plate Carrie Strott.
But instead of letting the deficit get to them, the Vikings simply answered right back with three runs of their own in the bottom half of the frame. Buehlman led off with a walk and eventually came around to score on an error. Later in the inning, Bluhm delivered the big hit with a two-out 2-RBI single.
"The best part of that was that it settled our nerves," Bluhm said. "It made us sure that we could do this and it made us more calm. All we had to do after that was get outs and come in and hit more. It just set the stage for the rest of the game."
The score stayed at 3-1 for the next few innings, as the two teams traded strong defensive plays. Mt. Hebron second baseman Rachel Cadigan made a highlight reel diving catch in the third, one of two for her on the day. Centennial then returned the favor in the bottom half of the third by turning a double play on a hard line-out to center.
And, while Centennial did get runners on base — putting runners in scoring position with no outs in both the fifth and sixth innings — Mt. Hebron continued to limit the damage with big strikeouts or putouts. Buehlman, who struck the side out in the second, finished with 11 strikeouts alone in five innings of work.
"We got on base, moved runners around, the only difference today from Monday against River Hill was that we didn't get those one or two hits we needed with runners on base in those fifth and sixth innings," Centennial coach Katie Grimm said. "But we had the tying run at the plate late in the game against a really good team and that's significant growth for us."
Mt. Hebron got itself some insurance in the bottom of the fifth, as Kinsella started things with a single and came around to score on a RBI double from freshman Kieran Davis. Then Bluhm came up, again with two outs, and drove Davis home to make it 5-1.
"When I look at this team, Stephanie has improved more than anyone else since she was a freshman," Struhar said. "She is so mature right now and she just hits line drives … singles all day."
Centennial gave itself one more chance to claw back into it in the top of the sixth, loading the bases with no outs on an error and back-to-back walks. It was at that point, however, that Kinsella came on in relief and got three straight outs without allowing a run to kill the rally.
Kinsella then helped her own cause with a RBI double in the bottom of the sixth to create the final margin.
Afterward, though, Grimm said that even in defeat she sees great potential moving forward in her team.
"As far as Im concerned, I learned a great deal about this team today. For us, it's all about culture change, believing we can win and battling for seven innings … and we did that today," Grimm said. "Obviously some things didn't go our way, some runs scored that we would like to have back, but we battled back and made the next play. We are headed so in the right direction even though the outcome wasn't what we wanted."
Rachel Jacavage had two singles, two doubles and a stolen base, while Sayla Phillips and Isa Carunungan each had two singles as well for Long Reach. Stephanie Moy added a stolen base.
For Reservoir in the loss, Holly Daum scored four runs and went 2-3. Hunter Little went 4-4 and also scored four runs. Emma Bailey pitched for the Gators and struck out 10.
123 456 7 R
Re 202 310 4 12
LR 203 190 x 15
Marriotts Ridge 25, Wilde Lake 3
After the Wildecats grabbed the early lead with three runs in the top of the first, the Mustangs answered right back with 14 runs in bottom half of the frame and never looked back.
Extra-base hits from Jordan Stepke (2 doubles), Mikayla Barnard, Grace McCoy and Sarah Thorne were among the offensive highlights for a Marriotts Ridge team that finished with 18 hits overall. Amanda Baker and Romy Lindahl split the pitching duties.
Wilde Lake's highlights included the first hits of their varsity careers for sophomore Kayleigh Gladden and freshman Kasey Baird in that first inning. They both scored on a line-drive single up the middle by junior Faith Leslie (scored on passed ball). Gladden ended the day 2-for-2 with a walk and a run. Senior Avery Haigh also tacked on a hit.
123 45 R-H-E
WL 300 00 3-5-7
MR (14)40 7x 25-18-2
Glenelg 16, Hammond 1
The Golden Bears took the early lead in the top of the first, but once the Gladiators got going with eight in the bottom of the second the team did not slow down. Glenelg ultimately scored 13 times between the second and third innings.
In that big second frame, the damage came from a triple by Paige Hoeflich, an RBI single by Erin Cauley, a two-run double by Katie McIntyre, a RBI single from Madison Wingert and a 3-run home run by Katie Dustin.
Overally, McIntyre racked up three RBI on two hits.
Gabrielle Browne pitched, allowing just two hits and striking out three in five innings of work.
On the other side, Kelly Smith had a single, while Cameren Bruce had a single with an RBI, to provide the highlights for Hammond.
123 45 R-H-E
Ha 100 00 1-2-4
G 085 3x 16-12-2
Atholton 14, Oakland Mills 4 (6 inn.)
The Scorpions scored three times in the top of the first, including a 2-RBI double by Zoe Smith, and held that lead all the way until the bottom of the third. But from there, the Raiders kick-started their offense and eventually pulled away for the win.
Patty Drumheller got things done at the plate (4-5, 2 stolen bases) and in the pitching circle (12 strikeouts and only one walk) for Atholton.
Other Raiders' standouts were Caitlyn Burmester (3-5, 2 doubles and 3 RBI) and Miranda Thompson (2-3, 2 walks and 2 RBI).
123 456 R-H-E
OM 300 010 4-4-9
A 003 524 14-13-2
Howard 15, River Hill 3 (5 inn)
The Lions did their damage early, scoring all 15 runs in the first three innings on the way to the comfortable win.
Ally Wieman got the win at pitcher, while also going 2-4 with a double and 3 RBI. Other offensive stars for the Lions were Jamie Bahrijczuk (3-4, 2 RBI), Katie Unkle (2-3, 2 doubles, 3 RBI), Steph Yarrish (2-3, 2 RBI) and Rachel Oliver (2-3, 3 RBI).
Jalyn Cox was the offensive standout for River Hill, delivering a pair of doubles to account for two of the team's four hits.