Hammond at Centennial Howard County softball on Monday, May 1 2017
Walking up to the plate in the bottom of the first inning Monday, Celina Jensen gave a glimpse of how the day was going to be like for Centennial.
With runners in scoring position, Jensen calmly knocked a hard-hit ball through the heart of the infield to start what turned into a 14-hit, 16-run day for the Eagles (8-5 county, 9-7 overall).
"When I stepped into the box today I just knew I needed to get the runs in," she said following her teams six-inning 16-6 win over Hammond. "I had a couple times when there were two runners on and I just knew that a little base hit went a long way. And that's all I tried to do, just put the ball in play and it worked."
Jensen was the catalyst in a prolific offensive day. She finished with three hits, a walk, five runs and was clutch with runners on, collecting six RBI on the day.
Batting in the fourth spot in the lineup, Jensen hit in Sarah Sopchick (three hits, two walks, four runs) and Lauren Marcotte (three hits, two walks, four runs, RBI) three times in the game.
"I told Celina this is why you're here," said Centennial coach Katie Grimm. "I thought she was phenomenal in the four-hole. Nothing big, nothing fancy, but she got it done and she got the timely hit, just what we've been missing."
Sopchick got the afternoon started with a one-out single. Marcotte then followed with a walk to give Jensen the opportunity to get her team on the board.
The Eagles went into the third inning with a 3-0 lead, following a 2 RBI hit by Jensen and an RBI single by Sarah Phelps to score Jensen in the first.
"The last two weeks we've been slumping and we're starting to come back towards a really good spot and getting really good production from all spots in our lineup," Grimm added. "We've been running the bases all year. I think how we ran the bases in the first inning really set the tone for what we were trying to do offensively and that was to hit the ball in the gap and run, run, run all day."
After leaving the bases loaded in the first, the Golden Bears (7-5, 7-6) battled back with four runs in the third, taking advantage of a couple errors by the Eagles.
Taylor Liguori instigated the surge with a one-out single, followed by a walk from Bethany Hewitt. Armonie Lane had the first RBI for Hammond, knocking a hit up the middle to score Liguori. Amanda Weirich then plated Hewitt on an RBI single and loaded the bases.
The Eagles got the second out of the inning on a force-out at the plate, but an overthrow at first scored Lane and Weirich to give Hammond a 4-3 lead.
But Centennial limited the damage from there, as Jensen, who also got the start in the circle, struck out the side to leave runners on.
"We just did not have timely hitting," said Golden Bears coach Brad Speierman. "I looked at the numbers and my assistant coach said we left more on base than they did. Obviously, they hit them in, but that's the thing. We had bases loaded a couple times, made some bad running mistakes. We could have let the inning keep going."
Centennial quickly regrouped in the bottom of the inning and added seven runs to re-take the advantage.
Sopchick and Marcotte led off the inning with a single and double, respectively, setting the table for Jensen once again. Jensen then plated both runners with an RBI single and Olivia Reese followed with a pop fly to shallow right field, which the Golden Bears couldn't corral to score Jensen and keep the inning alive.
"We gave up too many hits and we made errors at critical points in the game," Speierman said. "That has been the problem all year with our games and we've overcome that with hitting."
Hammond scored a run in the fourth inning to get within two, but Centennial tacked on four more runs in the bottom of the inning and started pulling away from then on.
Marcotte crushed the first pitch she saw to lead off the fourth, hitting a line drive over the center field fence for the solo home run. Reese, Jordan Hinz and Gracie Rockefeller all followed with an RBI and pushed the cushion to 11-5.
Brewer scored in the fourth and fifth innings for the Golden Bears to bring its run total to six, but the Eagles never let up. They added three in both the fifth and sixth innings with Phelps ending the game on a two RBI double to clinch the win.
"We have not had a ton success of putting teams away when we've had a lead," Grimm said. "It might be a one run lead or a three run lead and we lost a lot of those because we don't make a ton of plays sometimes when we need them. Not necessarily errors, but big plays in big moments and we did that today, and they did not step off the gas. I think that is a big thing."
Jensen earned the victory after pitching four innings, striking out three and letting up four hits and six walks. Hinz closed out the game and allowed four hits and had one strike out.
"We have a young team, so errors happen," Jensen added. "When they do happen we all have each other's backs. We all have people that pick each other up and after they happened I think it showed. We only let in a few runs after the first couple innings. We really picked it up and kept on hitting. I think that made the difference that we didn't slow our bats down this time and that really gave us the push we needed to go ahead and win this game."
After going through a bit of an offensive drought and coming off back-to-back losses to Marriotts Ridge and Reservoir, Monday's 16-6 six-inning win was just what Centennial needed to reignite its potent offense with just more than a week left of the regular season.
"We played really good defense, got really good pitching and our bats kind of got quiet," Grimm said of her team's losses against the Mustangs and Gators. "Because that's been on strength all year is our offense, and they were a little quiet in those games and couldn't quite get the timely hit. Then all day today we've had the timely hit and I hope we turned back to the beginning of the year and playing three parts of the game really, really well. And we got a ton of production from the bottom of our lineup, which we have not gotten in a few weeks so that has been a big difference for us."
Lane led Hammond at the plate, going 2 for 4, with a double, an RBI and a run. Liguori went 1 for 2 with two walks, a steal and a run, while Brewer had two hits and two runs.
"Unfortunately a couple of my kids in the middle of my lineup are playing through injuries right now. They are cleared to play, but I can see they are pressing and not 100 percent, and just trying to pick the rest of the team up," Speierman said. "It kind of started in the middle of the week last week… We didn't hit the ball the way we've been hitting all year. You saw a little bit of it against Oakland Mills and saw it even more with Wilde Lake and we just continued that today. That is what we talked about in our post game. We just need to re-focus."
The Golden Bears have a tough slate to end the year, playing Mt. Hebron in a double header Wednesday and then ending with Marriotts Ridge, Atholton and Reservoir. Speierman is looking forward to the challenge and is hoping his team can over come some injuries and end the regular season strong.
"This is our push right here. This week was crucial to us," he said. "… And that is exactly who we wanted to be playing if we were primed and ready to go. We couldn't ask for a better set of teams to be playing going into the playoffs ready to play your best ball."
Pitching: Ha — Brewer, Goyne (5) and Hewitt; C — Jensen, Hinz (5) and Reese.
2B: Ha — Lane; C — Marcotte, Phelps.
3B: C — Jensen, Hinz.
HR: C — Marcotte.
Around the league:
Marriotts Ridge 5, Glenelg 0
Coming off an 11-strikeout performance Saturday, Mustangs pitcher Mikayla Barnard continued her dominant stretch and held the Gladiators to just two hits and struck out seven in the shutout victory Monday.
Marriotts Ridge broke the scoreless stalemate in the fifth inning, pushing three runs over the plate and then added two more insurance runs in the sixth. An error cost Glenelg the lead in the fifth, which allowed two runs.
Megan Hughes and Molly Nies each hit a double for the Mustangs.
Marriotts Ridge not only ended the Gladiators six-game winning streak, but is also the only county team to defeat Glenelg this season after sweeping the season series. It is also the first team to keep the Gladiators scoreless this year.
Katie Dusting had Glenelg's only two hits of the game with a single and double. Amy Stetser took the loss. She went five innings, allowed three runs, seven hits and struck out four.
With the victory, the Mustangs are in a three-way tie with Glenelg and Howard atop the county standings.
MR (10-2 county, 12-3 overall), G (13-2, 13-5)
G — 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2
MR — 0 0 0 0 3 2 x 5 8 1
2B: G — K. Dustin; MR — Hughes (2), Nies.
River Hill 14, Atholton 10
The Hawks put an end to a two-game losing skid after out-lasting the visiting Raiders Monday, 14-10.
River Hill totaled 22 hits in the win, while hitting eight extra base hits.
The game was tied at 10 with the Hawks battling in the bottom of the sixth when Mia McCormick doubled off Atholton ace Patty Drumheller, driving in two runs.
Quinn Kindbom led River Hill at the plate, going 4-for-5 after hitting singles in the first, third and sixth, and doubling in the fourth inning.
The Raiders took the lead in the first inning following a two RBI single by Allison Orlosky. Orlosky also hit a three RBI double in the fourth, but the Hawks answered after Kindbom hit an RBI double, Jenna Kenyon knocked an RBI single and Sara Miller registered an RBI double to add three more in the bottom of the inning.
Delanie Vintz, Kindbom, Kenyon, Hannah Brown, Crystal Lin and Miller each collected multiple hits, while Kindbom and Vintz each finished with four hits on the day.
Atholton totaled 11 hits. Sydney Rhondes, Orlosky, Bethy Medina and Drumheller each had multiple hits for the Raiders.
RH (7-6 county, 7-9 overall), A (6-8, 6-9)
A — 2 1 1 3 0 3 0 10 11 1
RH — 0 0 4 3 3 4 14 22 4
Pitching: RH —Kindbom, McCullough (5), Kenyon (6) and Brown.
2B: A — Orlosky; RH — Brown (2), Miller (2), Kindbom, Kenyon, Vintz, McCormick.
3B: A — Drumheller.
Howard 20, Wilde Lake 0
The Lions won their fourth-straight game after handily defeating the hosting Wildecats Monday.
Becky Merson was the winning pitcher. She had three strikeouts and gave up no walks in two innings pitched. Emily Stokes (two innings, one walk, two strikeouts) and Ally Wieman (one inning, one hit, two strikeouts) closed out the game.
Howard totaled 24 hits in the five-inning win, with Paige Eakes leading the way, going 3 for 4 with a double, a home run and seven RBI. Wieman went 3 for 4 with two doubles and four RBI. Emma Braswell went 2 for 3 with a double and three RBI, while Caroline Kindbom went 4 for 4 with a double and an RBI.
Jasper Killian and Kayleigh Gladden recorded a hit each for Wilde Lake.
Ho (11-2 county, 12-4 overall), WL (1-11, 2-11)
Ho — 2 5 5 4 4 20 24 0
WL — 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 3
Pitching: Ho — Merson, Stokes, Wieman and Morton; WL — Baird, Gladden and Leslie.