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Howard softball holds off Glenelg rally for 6-3 win

Howard softball holds off Glenelg rally for 6-3 win
Howard pitcher Samantha Hobert, seen in this file photo, pitched 5.1 innings and struck out three on the way to earning the win against Glenelg on Monday, April 8, 2019. (Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Howard softball coach Chuck Rice needed to regroup his team. So, in the top of the fifth inning Monday evening in a home contest against Glenelg, he called timeout to reiterate the mentality that’s hoisted his Lions through the first half of the spring season.

“Weather the storm,” Rice told his team and sophomore pitcher Samantha Hobert, who had just allowed her second walk of the inning in a three-run game.

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On the very next pitch, Hobert induced a popup to get out of the inning, and when the Gladiators cut it to one-run game in the sixth, Rice’s Lions emphatically responded with two runs of their own to ultimately seal a 6-3 victory over visiting Glenelg.

While Howard could only turn 12 hits into six runs, Hobert (5.1 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 3 K) and the defense behind her turned in solid outings — the kind of performances that carry a team when things aren’t operating at peak level..

“We weathered the storm,” Rice said. “We weren’t at our best, but then again, we seem to do the right thing at the right time. We still compete.”

It’s the fourth win in a row for Howard (7-1 county play, 7-2 overall), which has held its last four opponents to three runs or less. The Lions are a half game behind first-place Hammond (7-0, 7-1) in the Howard County standings.

On Monday, Hobert and reliever Angie Tyler (1.2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 BB, 2 K) combined to hold Glenelg to just three hits — two of them being singles — exemplifying Rice’s statement that the defense is the reason for confidence at this juncture.

“Right now it is,” Rice said of the defense being the best. “I still don't think we’ve started to hit yet. And you don’t want to hit your peak on April 5. We are weathering storms right now [with defense].”

Glenelg took a 1-0 lead after the top half of the first inning, but Howard nudged ahead in the inning’s bottom half, 2-1, when Lindsey Smith and Paige Eakes reached base on a pair of singles and later scored on a throwing error. Hobert then settled in, using her go-to curveball to hold Glenelg to a four at-bat second inning. The sophomore then retired Glenelg 1-2-3 in the third and fourth frames.

“I had to change my speed to throw them off,” Hobert said.

Howard tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning thanks to RBI’s from Julia Colton and Eakes to go up 4-1 before Glenelg shaved it to 4-3 in the top of the sixth, as four of the first five batters of the inning reached base.

But behind Smith, who went 4-for-4 on the day, Howard answered with two runs of its own. Smith hustled out an infield single to set up the first run and Eakes reached base on a Glenelg error for the second run.

“It was tight … but I knew we would respond,” Smith said.

In total, the Lions return everyone but two starters from last year’s state semifinal team. So far, pitching and defense are the clear-cut strengths in Rice’s eyes. Offense, on the other hand, is a daily project.

“I think we have the pieces in the right position,” Rice said. “I’ve always said this: Our pitching will hold us. Our defense will hang. But we have to hit, moving runners around, putting pressure on defenses.”

Glenelg (6-2, 6-2), meanwhile, couldn’t manufacture enough scoring opportunities down the stretch to makeup for its lack of hitting early on. But next week, the Gladiators will have a shot at redemption, as the two meet again next Monday. First, Glenelg will look to bounce back Wednesday against Hammond.

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“I thought we came out with pretty low energy today,” Glenelg coach Shannon Riley said. “We talked to the girls about changing their body language. That was evident. … We definitely knew about their pitches. I think we gained confidence against them for when we play them next week.”

Howard (7-1, 7-2) — 6, Glenelg (6-2, 6-2) — 3

……...123 456 7 R-H-E

G……100 002 0 3-3-3

Ho…..200 202 x 6-12-3

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