Howard brought its bats on the road Tuesday against Marriotts Ridge.
In a battle between two of Howard County's best, the Lions (7-1 county, 7-3 overall) came away with the 10-1 win over the Mustangs (6-2,8-2) and earned the one-game lead in the county standings.
"We knew they would be a big team and top opponent in the county, so we knew we needed to focus and bring everything we had and really just nail in our fundamentals and just play our softball," said Howard catcher Paige Eakes. "We're facing a lot of good teams this week, so it was a huge start and a great intro to our week."
The Lions found early success against Marriotts Ridge ace Mikayla Barnard. After two scoreless innings they broke the game open in the top of the third.
Howard started off the inning with three-straight hits with Emma Braswell giving the Lions a one-run lead after an RBI single scored Shanya Gordon from third. Ally Wieman tacked on three more after a bases clearing double. She was inches away from sending the ball over the center field fence, but the ball dropped just before the wall, allowing Katie Unkle, Braswell and Eakes to score.
The big third inning propelled the nine-run win, as the Lions added two more in the fifth and three in the sixth to create the large cushion.
"We did, we played a good game. We had one inning that we let get away from us and that gave them I think five runs that inning, and we were unable to get the lead back from there," said Marriotts Ridge coach Karyn Peksa. "Howard is a good hitting team and good competition every time we play. They took that five runs and got a couple more in the next couple innings."
Eakes got it started in the top of the fifth with a one-out single, and Becky Merson ultimately hit her across two batters later. Sophie Morton then stepped up to the plate and knocked an RBI single to score Julia Colton, pushing the advantage to seven.
"Coach Rice did a really good job of preparing us and getting us used to that speed," Eakes said of Barnard. "She is faster than most of the girls we've faced so far, so just making sure we see it in especially against her and then just watching the off-speed stuff from the second pitcher, Romy [Lindahl]. We just knew we had to watch it in all the way and take the bat to the ball."
Howard got its first four batters on in the top of the sixth. Braswell hit a shot down the left field line, scoring Gordon and Unkle. Eakes then drove in Braswell in the following at-bat on an RBI double.
The Mustangs scored their lone run in the bottom of the fifth. They started the inning strong, getting their first four runners on with just one out. Barnard picked up the RBI on a chopper hit through the infield, which scored Madi Costigan, but Marriotts Ridge couldn't pile on more.
Ultimately, the Mustangs finished with seven hits and four walks in the game, with Costigan leading the way at the plate, going 4-for-4 with the only run scored.
"Howard is a good team and we had one bad inning in the beginning where we made a couple mental errors, and did a couple things where we shouldn't have done," Peksa said. "Howard is a good hitting team. We gave them that lead and they just kept chipping away. We didn't hit the ball like we normally do today, and we didn't get as many base runners on."
Howard was successful throughout their lineup, totaling 12 hits in the win. Meakes led the way, however, going 3-for-3 with a double, a walk, two runs scored and an RBI. Gordon (3-for-5, 2 Runs) and Braswell (2-for-4, 2 Runs, 3 RBI) followed offensively, while Wieman earned the win in the circle. The senior let up seven hits and struck out six in the complete game win.
"They are a top team. I thought Ally kept them off their toes," Rice said. "I think we played excellent defense and we put the ball in play off of Mikayla, and Mikayla is probably the one of the best pitchers, besides Ally, in the league. I'm not taking credit away. We came up and we knew what she was going to throw and we sat on it. Give credit to the team, because they hit top to bottom. Not one girl had struggles, so I am impressed with that."
The Lions have a big week ahead. They play Glenelg Wednesday, which also has just one county loss — which came against the Mustangs— then they are back home Friday against Hammond, which sits with just two county losses thus far.
"We are in the meat of the schedule right now and we play three more tough teams this week and it is one game at a day," Rice said. We are not looking at Friday, we're not looking at Saturday, we are looking at tomorrow. We win tomorrow, we'll breathe on Thursday and then we'll go into Friday and see what we have there. But yeah, it is one game at a time. They are getting their feet underneath themselves. Young squad, still making some mental mistakes, but overall I think they are doing well."
The defeat snapped a four-game winning streak for the Mustangs, whose only losses this year have come against Howard, Hammond and Northeast, one of the most best programs in the state.
Marriotts Ridge will look to re-start a new winning streak Wednesday, when it hosts Reservoir.
"I told them that it's hard to win when we don't have runners on base. That the best thing about spring sports is that you get to come back tomorrow and play another good team and today is over with," Peksa said. "We are moving on."
The Gladiators then built a five-run lead through the fourth, but Centennial slowly chipped away before knocking in five runs in the sixth to take an 8-7 advantage heading into the bottom of the sixth inning.
Lauren Marcotte hit a home run in the fifth and a double in the sixth to help in the Eagles rally, while Olivia Reese homered and Jensen hit a double in the sixth to aid in the run.
The Gladiators tied the game at eight, before Katie McIntyre 2 RBI double put them back in front. Glenelg then held on to the two-run cushion in the seventh and closed out the victory.
Amy Stetser was the winning pitcher. She went six innings, surrendering three runs, six hits and striking out seven. Jensen took the loss for Centennial. She pitched six innings, gave up 10 runs, 11 hits and struck out six.
Glenelg collected 13 hits in the game, with Molly Dustin, Kathryn Hoffman, Stetser, and McInytre each registering multiple hits.
The Eagles recorded 11 hits, with Sarah Sopchick, Marcotte, Reese and Jensen each having multiple hits in the game.
It was an important win for the Gladiators, who remain in first place atop the county standings alongside Howard. They are set to face the Lions Wednesday for tops in the league, while the Eagles will take on Atholton at home.
G (8-1 county, 8-4 overall), C (5-2, 6-4)
C — 0 0 0 1 2 5 0 8 11 5
G — 0 1 3 2 1 3 x 10 13 2
Hammond 15, Long Reach 9
The Golden Bears picked up the win against the hosting Lightning Tuesday.
Brittany Brewer had a season-high six strikeouts in the complete game win. She scattered 10 hits over seven innings and allowed just three earned runs.
Armonie Lane led Hammond with a double and two singles. Bethany Hewitt followed with a triple and single, while Taylor Liguori, Kelly Smith and Brewer all had two hits apiece.
The Golden Bears are back home Wednesday to face River Hill, while Long Reach is on the road against Wilde Lake.
Ha (5-2 county, 5-3 overall), LR (1-4, 1-5)
Ha — 3 1 5 0 0 3 3 15 16 5
LR — 0 0 0 0 4 5 0 9 10 5
Atholton 10, Wilde Lake 0
Patty Drumheller earned the Raiders the shutout-win over the visiting Wildecats Tuesday, while giving up seven hits in seven innings pitched.
Atholton gave its veteran pitcher an early 8-0 cushion after the first two innings, but Wilde Lake held on to concede just two runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
The Wildecats had runners in scoring position in the second, third, fourth and sixth innings, but could not push a run across the plate.
Rachel Van Osdel led Wilde Lake offensively, as she went 2 for 3. Sydney McNamara, Jasper Killian, Faith Leslie and Kayleigh Gladden also picked up hits, while senior Jessica Bell had the first hit of her varsity career on a pinch hit at-bat in the sixth inning.
Both teams are back in action Wednesday. The Wildecats will head home to face Long Reach, while the Raiders are on the road against Centennial.
A (3-5 county, 3-6 overall), WL (1-5, 2-5)
WL — 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 2
A — 5 3 0 0 1 1 x 10 11 1
Pitching: WL — Baird, Gladden (4) and Leslie; A — Drumheller and Orlosky.
2B: A — Law.
River Hill 20, Oakland Mills 8
The Hawks didn't waste any time taking the lead on the visiting Scorpions Tuesday, and ultimately, they finished with the 20-8 five-inning win.
Hannah Brown, Quinn Kindbom and Delanie Vintz led River Hill. Each recorded an extra base hit in the game. Jenna Kenyon earned the win for the Hawks. She struck out five, walked one and let up three earned runs in four innings.
Zoe Smith had an outstanding day at the plate for Oakland Mills. She was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle, recording a double, single and home run in the outing. Lizzie Yu went 2 for 4, while Tamia Bydume had a double and made some great plays in the field.
Both teams are back in action Wednesday, with River Hill visiting Hammond and the Scorpions hosting Mt. Hebron.
RH (5-4 county, 5-7 overall), OM (0-7, 0-8)
OM — 1 0 2 0 5 8 8 4
RH — 7 1 7 5 x 20 15 2
Pitching: OM — Smith and Yu; RH — Kenyon, McCullough (5) and Brown.
2B: OM — Smith, Bydume; RH — Kindbom, Vintz.
3B: RH — Brown.
HR: OM — Smith
River Hill 11, Wilde Lake 1 (Monday, April 17)
WL — 0 1 0 0 0 1 4 2
RH — 6 1 0 2 2 11 13 1
Pitching: WL — Baird and Leslie; RH — Vintz and Brown.
Mt. Hebron 4, Reservoir 0
MH (3-3 county, 3-4 overall), Re (5-3, 8-3)
Roland Park 5, Chapelgate 4
RP (4-1 IAAM B, 5-1 overall), CCA (1-2 IAAM B, 2-4),