Led by senior Jamie Bahrijczuk, both at the plate and in the pitcher's circle, Howard held off Long Reach Monday for an opening day, 4-1, victory.

Bahrijczuk delivered a perfect 3-for-3 day with her bat, including 3 RBI, to go along with an eight-strikeout effort on the rubber en route to picking up the win. Overall, the Lions rebounded from a slow start to the afternoon by scoring four times from the fourth inning on to start the season on the right foot.

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"It's huge for us to get started with a win, especially because everyone knows that my big gun is sitting on the bench," said Howard coach Chuck Rice, whose team is playing this season without injured captain Berit Batterton (ACL). "So it's good to get one or two under your belt early, develop that confidence. Long Reach is going to be a much improved team this year, so I'm glad we got them early."

Howard (1-0) also got multi-hit days from Rachel Oliver (2-3, home run) and Ally Wieman (2-3, double) en route to the victory. Wieman came on in relief in the fifth and pitched three scoreless frames to close things out, striking out four along the way.

On the other side, Long Reach (0-1) fell short but saw some very strong efforts across the board. The team, which had Stephanie Moy and Rachel Jacavage each have multi-hit days, had at least one runner on base in six out of seven innings.

The Lightning even led 1-0 early on following a lead-off double from Moy in the top of the third that eventually resulted in her crossing the plate.

"This was great, especially to start off against a team like Howard where we have to step it up to that next level. And we proved that we can step it up," said Long Reach assistant coach Heather Clausen. "All the girls came out today and saw that, yes, we are competitive and are ready to play these teams. At one point there we were winning.

"There are some things to work on, but also a lot to be proud of and build on."

In the early stages, Long Reach pitcher Isa Carunungan really kept Howard's batters off balance and her defense made some really strong plays behind her. The Lions failed to find the scoreboard in the first three innings, including going 1-2-3 in the second.

"You could tell that everyone was just nervous this year because it's such a growing year for us. We really need to get our bats going, because we have a strong defense, and I think it took us a few innings today," Bahrijczuk said. "A lot of nerves, but we stayed with it."

It was Bahrijczuk and that defense behind her that ultimately helped Howard weather the slow start. The senior pitcher struck out the side in the first and third innings to strand runners on base each time.

"Last year gave definitely gave me confidence that I never had before, so it's nice coming into this year with that," Bahrijczuk said. "My screwball was working pretty nice. Sometimes the umpire wasn't calling it, but it was there when I needed it."

Long Reach took its lead in the third when Moy came home on an errant Howard throw to make it 1-0 in favor of the Lightning.

It wasn't until the bottom of the fourth that Howard got the equalizer, as Oliver delivered a lead-off bomb just inside the left-field foul pole. That run, which tied up the game, was a crucial one according to Rice.

"After she hit that one, everything just seemed to open up for our hitters. We relaxed a little bit and I think naturally you get that first big run and everyone can take a deep breath," Rice said. "This whole season is going to be situations like this that we are going to have to fight through."

Howard ended up with six hits in the fourth inning, tacking on another two runs on an RBI single by Bahrijczuk. But the damage could have been even worse if not for a spectacular throw and catch by Moy in centerfield to gun down a Howard runner trying to tag up and score.

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Big defensive plays were a theme all afternoon for the Lightning, which also got a big out on a rundown between third and home late in the game to keep the game close.

"All of our new girls coming in are very strong defensive players and Steph, especially out in the outfield, she is just the queen out there — she takes over everything," Clausen said. "Everyone is communicating really well and coming together as a team. It's exciting to see."

Howard did get an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth on Bahrijczuk's third RBI of the day to create the final 4-1 margin.

The Lions are back in action on Thursday against defending county-champion River Hill, while Long Reach will host Reservoir.

Howard 4, Long Reach 1

123 456 7        R-H-E

LR       001 000 0        1-7-1

Ho       000 301 x        4-11-2

Other scores:

Centennial 10, River Hill 0 (5 innings)

The Eagles opened the season with an all-around stand out effort, including a one-hitter from pitcher Jordan Ciraolo, to shut out the defending county-champion Hawks.

"We've struggled against them for the last few years. This win was a big monkey off our backs," Centennial coach Katie Grimm said. "The girls were amazing today and played as a team. This is a good win for our program, but we go back to the grind tomorrow. We still have some areas that we need to get better in and we face a tough opponent (Mt. Hebron) on Thursday. This is our first win in what is a very long season, so we can't lose our focus."

Ciraolo not only excelled in the circle, where she threw five innings and allowed just an infield single, but also went 2-4 at the plate with 3 RBI. "She really pitched to our strength today — to our infield, and the infield did their job."

It was Ciraolo that plated Celina Jensen (2-2, 2 walks, RBI) in the bottom of the first with a single up the middle to help her own cause.

In the bottom of the second inning, after River Hill retired the first two Eagles' batters, Centennial rallied with the bottom of its line-up to go on to score three times. Jensen delivered a run with a single and then Emily Allen (2-4, 3 RBI) followed with a home run.

The Eagles came through with a nice play from Allen at catcher in the top of the fifth to help keep the shutout in tact. The senior fielded a bunt with a diving stop and then collected herself to throw the runner out at first.

Centennial was then back at it again in the bottom of the fifth, really stringing hits together. Grace Bennett (1-3, run) led off with a single and then advanced home with some smart base running and a passed ball. Rockefeller followed with a walk and advanced on a Montanez single. Carrie Strott (1-4, RBI, 2 runs) then delivered an RBI single, Jensen walked to load the bases and then Allen plated a pair of runs with a ball up the middle. Now with an 8-0 lead, the Eagles clinched the win with a 2-RBI double from Ciraolo.

123 45 R-H-E

RH      000 00 0-1-3

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C         130 06 10-10-1

Atholton 14, Reservoir 4 (5 inn.)

The Raiders didn't waste any time setting the tone, scoring nine runs in the top of the first on the way to a convincing 5-inning victory.

Juliet Nierle (4-4, double, 5 RBI), Miranda Thompson (3-4) and Sydney Rhodes (3-4) all had huge efforts at the plate in the Atholton victory. Ruth Glenn added a triple. Breann Smith (2-3) and Abby Wang (2-3 had multiple hits for Reservoir, while Hunter Little and Holly Daum (1-2, 2 RBI) had doubles.

At pitcher, Patty Drumheller allowed three earned runs and struck out seven on her way to the victory for Atholton.

123 45 R-H-E

A         914 00 14-18-1

Re        002 10 4-7-1

Marriotts Ridge 19, Hammond 9 (6 inn.)

After trailing by four, 9-5, heading into the top of the fourth inning, the Mustangs exploded for 10 runs to change the tide of the game. Marriotts Ridge didn't allow a run the rest of the way and ended up winning by 10 in six innings.

Jordan Stepke (4-5, double), Mikayla Barnard (3-5, double) and Molly Nies (2-5, double) all had standout games. The Mustangs ended up with a total of nine extra-base hits.

On the other side, Kelly Smith (3-4), Brittany Brewer (2-3), Taylor Liguori (2-4) and Sophie Baldwin (2-4, double) all were contributors at the plate.

Romy Lindahl (2 innings) and Barnard split the pitching duties for Marriotts Ridge.

123 456           R-H-E

MR      410 (10)31      19-18-2

Ha       513 000           9-12-5

Glenelg 16, Oakland Mills 0

The Gladiators scored at least once in every inning on the way to the opening-day win.

An RBI single by Erin Cauley during the first inning, followed by a RBI single by Anna Turvin and a RBI double by Cauley in the second helped supply the early offense. Cauley finished the day with four hits and 5 RBI to pace the Glenelg offense.

Turvin also pitched well for the Gladiators in the circle, striking out five and allowing just two hits in three innings of work.

Emily Yarn pitched for Oakland Mills and struck out three, while contributing a hit of her own. Zoe Smith also played well, making five assists and a putout in the field to go with a hit at the plate.

123 45 R-H-E

G         151 72 16-18-0

OM     000 00 0-4-4

Mt. Hebron 23, Wilde Lake 0

The Vikings' bats were on fire to open the season, combining for five doubles and two grand-slam home runs on the way to the shutout win.

Evvie Buehlman had three hits, including a grand slam in the third inning, while freshman Kieran Davis had a double, grand slam and 5 RBI in her varsity debut.

Others who hit well from Mt. Hebron were Rachel Cadigan, Meghan Holquist, Julia Miller (double), Rylee Kinsella (2 doubles) and Stephanie Bluhm.

Buehlman got the win, pitching three scoreless innings. Kinsella came on in relief for the final two innings and struck out five against no hits.

123      45        R-H-E

MH     (13)54 10        23-20-0

WL      000      00        0-0-4

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