Howard junior Ally Wieman talks about her team's win over Glenelg softball on Monday, April 11.
With a young squad this spring, Howard coach Chuck Rice has said time and time again how important confidence is in terms of providing something for his group to build upon.
So on Monday afternoon against Glenelg, in a match-up between undefeated county squads, Rice and his Lions got exactly what they were looking for by exploding for seven runs right off the bat in the bottom of the first inning.
Riding the momentum from that early advantage, Howard (5-0 county, 6-2 overall) never trailed the rest of the way en route to an 11-4 victory that now has the team alone in first place in the league standings.
"The first inning really does set the tone and when we can score like we did today it seems to take pressure off everyone," Rice said. "It relaxes my pitcher when she gets back out there, she doesn't feel like she has to throw a perfect pitch every single time. And it relaxes my defense, where they can bobble one or two and it's not going to cost us the game.
"We've got nine girls who can put the ball in play and when you can do that, good things are going to happen."
In that first frame, Howard ended up sending 13 batters to the plate. Big RBI hits came from Ally Wieman (2-4, double, 2 runs), Lydia Maruschak and Steph Yarrish (3-5, double, 3 runs). Emma Braswell, Rachel Oliver and Jamie Bahrijczuk also had hits and eventually came around to score.
"It definitely was good for our momentum. I mean everyone came up and hit the ball," said Wieman, who had a 2-RBI double in that first inning and also picked up the win at pitcher on the afternoon. "Rachel had a nice hit, Emma had a nice hit … everyone did really well first inning. It just gave us a little breakthrough to calm down and get the nerves out."
Staked to the lead, Wieman handled her business in the pitching circle. She ended up striking out five in a little over 4 innings of work, tossing the first three frames and then coming back on in relief to record the final four outs.
During her time at pitcher, she allowed just a pair of runs in the third inning —on a 2-RBI hit by Glenelg's Katie Dustin.
"Fastball was definitely working and the curveball inside is always great," Wieman said. "I tried the drop ball today, which needed improvement, but I still got it over and the screwball always works on the outside."
Howard's defense also lended a helping hand most of the afternoon when both Wieman and Bahrijczuk were pitching. The Lions got big double plays in the second inning on a ball hit to Braswell at short and then again in the fourth on a line out to Wieman at first.
Offensively, Howard was able to tack on single insurance runs in the second, third, fifth and sixth innings. Hannah Kavalsky picked up a pair of RBI hits during those later innings, while Katie Unkle and Sophie Morton also had RBI singles.
On the other side, Glenelg had chances to get itself back into it. The Gladiators loaded the bases in both the third and sixth innings with the opportunity to do more damage.
Ultimately, however, Howard made enough inning-ending plays to protect its lead.
Glenelg coach Ray Gerstner said it was a good learning experience for his team, which features just one senior — Paige Hoeflich — on the roster.
"These away games you absolutely have to pounce on them early, show them that you are ready to compete, because it's incredibly hard to have to battle back the entire way like we did today," Gerstner said. "We did show it today, it just happened later and they already had that cushion to play with.
"But I like to see these girls fighting and we are going to have lots more opportunities to step up as we go forward."
Offensively, Long Reach had Isa Carunungan go 4-5 with a walk and a home run. Phillips went 3-3 with a double, 3 RBI and 3 runs scored. Ashley Sedlack also had three singles, a RBI and 4 runs scored.
Wilde Lake scored in the second, third and fifth innings thanks to timely hitting and good baserunning. Junior Faith Leslie was 3-3 on the day with 2 runs scored and a RBI. Junior Sydney McNamara also had a strong day, going 1-2 with a double, walk, RBI and 3 runs scored. Sophomores Sophia Hilger and Stella Johnson each also picked up hits.
123 45 R-H-E-
LR 817 72 25-22-2
WL 022 04 8-6-4
Centennial 10, Atholton 5
On the heels of nearly earning a dramatic comeback win against Glenelg on April 8, the Eagles came out on Monday and kept their good vibes going by scoring all 10 of its runs against the Raiders in the first three innings.
"I felt this was a must win considering the momentum we gained back late in the game against Glenelg," Centennial coach Katie Grimm said. "The offense that was so strong the last four innings (April 8) was back in full force today."
The victory was the second in county play for the Eagles (2-3, 2-4), while it marked the first defeat in league play for the Raiders (4-1, 4-2).
Jordan Ciraolo retired the side in order for Centennial in the top of the first with a strike out and a pair of ground-ball outs. Then the Eagles began the offensive onslaught with a five-run inning that saw the team bat through the line-up.
Camryn Allen (2-5, 2 runs, stolen base) led off with a single, then moved over to third thanks to stealing a base and a SAC bunt from Grace Bennett (1-4, run). Emily Allen (2-2, run, 4 RBI, double, triple) then was hit by a pitch and was moved over by another SAC bunt. That set the stage for three straight doubles from Emily Davis (1-4, 2 RBI), Carrie Strott (2-3, 2 runs) and Ciraolo to start the scoring. Samantha Sterenberg (3-4, run) followed later by driving in a run and it was quickly 5-0.
Atholton got one back in the second, as Juliet Nierle singled home Bethy Medina (2-4, 3 RBI). But Centennial countered with a SAC fly from Emily Allen in the bottom half of the inning to push its lead back to five.
Then, in the third inning, the Eagles pulled away for good with another four runs. Strott, Gracie Rockefeller, Sterenberg and Camryn Allen all set the table with singles. Then Emily Allen came up and delivered a bases-clearing triple to make it 10-1.
"Needless to say, we hit really well with runners on base, which is something we had been struggling to do," Grimm said. "The girls made fantastic adjustments at the plate. They were patient, forcing Raider pitcher Patt Drumheller to work from behind in the count."
Atholton kept battling, getting two runs back in both the fifth and seventh innings. But ultimately the comeback attempt fell short.
Drumheller (2-4) and Caitlyn Burmester (2-4) joined Medina with multi-hit days for the Raiders in the loss.
123 456 7 R-H-E
A 010 020 2 5-7-1
C 514 000 x 10-14-2
Reservoir 5, Marriotts Ridge 4
After breaking through for a statement victory over Mt. Hebron on April 8, handing the Vikings their second straight defeat at the time, the Gators backed it up with a one-run victory over the Mustangs on Monday.
The Gators scored once in the top of the seventh, getting an RBI single from Holly Daum (2-4, 2 RBI) to plate Carly Clarke (2 runs) to provide what ended up being the game-winning run. Reservoir then set the top of the Marriotts Ridge line-up down in order in the bottom half of the inning.
Earlier in the game, Breann Smith (2 runs) and Abby Wang (1-2, run, RBI) had helped the Gators get ahead and into a position where they would never trail. The pitching duo of Emma Bailey (4 strikeouts) and Emily Lloyd combined to do their part with just seven hits allowed.
Marriotts Ridge, meanwhile, had tied the game on two different occasions, including with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. A RBI double from Makenzie Hockensmith (3-3, 2 runs) helped aid the comeback.
Grace McCoy (double, 2 RBI) was one of four other Mustangs to get hits on the day.
In the end, though, the Gators delivered the big plays they needed in crunch time. Reservoir (3-2, 3-3) has rebounded for three consecutive victories since starting the year with three straight losses.
123 456 7 R-H-E
Re 020 110 1 5-4-4
MR 020 002 0 4-7-4
Hammond 7, River Hill 5
The Golden Bears jumped on the visiting Hawks by putting up four runs in the bottom of the first and never lost the lead after that. Kelly Smith (2-4) led off the opening frame with a single and then scored on a RBI double from Emily Dowdall. Sophie Baldwin, Brittany Brewer (2-3), Cameren Bruce and Amanda Weirich (2-3, 2 RBI) all added singles to help account for the 4-0 lead.
River Hill battled to keep things close throughout, scoring at least once in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Hannah Brown (3-3, triple) and Delanie Vintz (2-4) each had solid days at the plate to pace the Hawks' offense.
Ultimately, though, Hammond's defense backed up a strong complete-game pitching performance from Brewer to secure the win. Brewer finished with six strikeouts, giving up seven hits and allowing four walks.
123 456 7 R-H-E
RH 001 112 0 5-7-2
Ha 401 020 x 7-12-3
Mt. Hebron 13, Oakland Mills 0
The Vikings got back on the winning track by defeating the Scorpions in five innings, returning to form after having losing two straight against Howard and Reservoir.
Rachel Cadigan paced the offense by going 4-4 with two stolen bases, while Meghan Holquist (triple, double 4 RBI) and Kieran Davis (single, double and triple) starred at the plate as well.
Rylee Kinsella and Maddie Wright combined to pitch a shutout for the Vikings, allowing just three Oakland Mills hits. Danielle Smith got her first varsity hit — a double down the left-field line.
For Oakland Mills, Emily Yarn struck out three at pitcher. Lizzie Yu, meanwhile, provided most of the Scorpions' offense with a pair of hits.