Marriotts Ridge travels to Mt. Hebron for a Howard County softball game on Friday, April 15.
Marriotts Ridge, an under .500 team in 2015, could very well be this year's most improved Howard County squad.
Taking advantage of an opportunistic offense that scored six times in the first two innings, along with a lockdown pitching performance from Romy Lindahl, the Mustangs went on the road Friday and earned a statement victory over Mt. Hebron, 7-2.
After losing back-to-back one-run county games, Marriotts Ridge (5-2, 5-3) has now rebounded to win two straight contests against above .500 teams in convincing fashion.
"We always talk about mental toughness and that we are going to win if we are mentally tougher than the other team," Marriotts Ridge's Grace McCoy said. "Just in the past week, in the game's that we've had, we've been really cracking down on not doing anything fancy or trying to hit home runs. Just trying to get on base and make the simple plays, that is letting us win and it's building our confidence so much."
The Mustangs certainly took advantage of every opportunity they had early on against a Mt. Hebron (4-3, 4-4) squad that was coming off a big win over Atholton on Wednesday.
In the top of the first, Marriotts Ridge capitalized on a couple Mt. Hebron miscues to go along with big hits from Molly Nies and Mikayla Barnard (2-3, triple, 2 RBI) to put three runs on the board.
Then, in the third inning, Marriotts Ridge scored three more times to up its lead to 6-0. This time it was a 2-RBI double from McCoy and a RBI single from Emma Meininger that did the damage.
"We hit the ball today and that allowed us to get that early lead. But the good thing is we kept hitting and were able to add on to it," Marriotts Ridge coach Karyn Peksa said. "We played our game from the very beginning and I think that showed on the field."
While the offense was lighting up the scoreboard, adding another run in the fourth when Nies crossed the plate after a Vikings' error, Lindahl was handling her business in the pitcher's circle.
Through the first five innings, the sophomore allowed just four hits and no runs.
Lindahl had three strikeouts on the afternoon, but really excelled at hitting her spots and getting Mt. Hebron to hit the ball right at her defense. Led by several sparkling plays from shortstop Jordan Stepke, Marriotts Ridge continually made big plays with runners in scoring position.
"It was just working today. I would throw some curves in there, and a little bit of change, but overall I was just hitting my spots and trusting my fielders," Lindahl said.
Mt. Hebron's Rylee Kinsella had started at pitcher, surrendering the game's first six runs, before Evvie Buehlman came on in relief. The Vikings' senior was dominant in her four innings, striking out nine and allowing just one hit.
But, ultimately, Mt. Hebron was just in too deep of a hole. Even as the Vikings plated a run apiece in the sixth and seventh innings — getting RBI from Danielle Smith and Kieran Davis — it wasn't enough to get any closer than the final five-run margin.
Afterward, Mt. Hebron coach Chuck Struhar said his squad, which has an equal mix of experience (four seniors) and inexperience (three freshmen) this year, is going through some growing pains.
"We've got three freshmen playing … these girls are learning as we go. They are going to be good in time, but they and we as a team have a long way to go," Mt. Hebron coach Chuck Struhar said. "When we play well, we can be very good, and you saw that against Atholton the other day. But we have also had games, like today, where we struggle to get the bats going."
The Lions remain undefeated in county play with the win, improving to 7-0 in league.
There were standout efforts at the plate all over the place for Howard, which had Shanya Gordon (grand slam, 4 RBI), Rachel Oliver (double, 3 RBI) and Emma Braswell (double, 3 RBI) all hit well with runners on base, along with Sophie Morton finishing with a team-high 3 hits.
Howard's duo of Jamie Bahrijczuk and Ally Wieman split the pitching duties with three innings each, combining for seven strikeouts and just six hits against.
The Hawks jumped ahead early with six runs in the top of the first, but the Lightning chipped away and eventually came all the way back with a combined nine runs between the fifth and sixth innings.
Hailey Ramberg went 2-4 with a walk, double, home run, 3 runs scored and 2 RBI to lead the charge for Long Reach. But Kamryn Walker (4-4, triple, 4 RBI, run) and Sayla Phillips (3-4, double, RBI, 3 runs) also had huge days offensively.
Isa Carunungan pitched and settled down after the first inning to allow just two more runs, striking out 10 in seven innings of work.
Aarthi Ambrosi (4-4, double, 2 runs) and Delanie Vintz (4-4, double, 2 runs) led the way offensively for River Hill in the loss.
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RH 600 200 0 8
LR 014 045 x 14
Centennial 28, Wilde Lake 6
Emily Allen smacked three doubles to pace an Eagles offensive attack that included a 14-run second inning and 24 hits overall. Celina Jensen also had a double.
The win was the third straight for the Eagles.
Wilde Lake had a season-high nine hits of their own, scoring three times apiece in the third and fourth innings. Faith Leslie had a big 2-RBI double in the third, while Kasey Baird (2-3, run, RBI), Sydney McNamara and Leslie had three hits in a row to drive in the runs in the fourth. Other Wildecats' hits came from Kayleigh Gladden, Avery Haigh, Adanya Koger-Hobson and Jessica Bell (first on varsity).
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C 0(14)6 62 28-24-0
WL 003 30 6-9-4
Atholton 8, Glenelg 7
The Raiders were trailing by three going to the seventh inning, but scored fives times to provide the cushion it needed to hold on for the victory.
Atholton got its decisive runs in the final frame courtesy of an error, three hits, two walks, three wild pitches and a SAC fly. Then, in the bottom of the seventh, the Raiders induced a game-ending groundball to first with the tying run on third and the winning run on second.
Patty Drumheller picked up the win at pitcher, while also going 3-4 with a stolen base and 2 runs scored. Ruth Glenn and Juliet Nierle each recorded two hits, while Beth Medina added 3 RBI. Caitlyn Burmester added a double.
Glenelg got three hits from Katie McIntyre (double), along with two hits apiece from Katie Dustin and Madison Wingert (2 doubles). Keri Stevens also had a double for the Gladiators.