Marriotts Ridge coach Renard Parson knew coming into Friday’s game with River Hill just how much it meant to the Hawks, who could clinch a share of the county championship with a victory.
But, as far as Parson was concerned, the contest meant just as much to his team in its quest to continue building momentum heading into the playoffs.
On senior day, the Mustangs jumped ahead early and led from start finish on the way to an 8-5 victory that marks the team’s fifth straight win against county competition and in the process spoiled River Hill’s chance at tying Howard and Hammond for the league title.
“I don’t think we really came into today thinking about playing spoiler, as much as we wanted to continue getting ourselves right with the playoffs starting next week,” Parson said. “And today I thought we did a lot of things well, fixing a lot of the mistakes from when we lost to them earlier this year. We capitalized on offense and made the outs we needed on defense.”
Junior pitcher Megan Hughes was a major reason why Marriotts Ridge (11-4, 11-8) was able to flip the script from the meeting earlier this year that the Hawks won 10-2. After giving up five earned runs in less than an inning during that first meeting, Hughes came back out this time around and pitched a complete game, allowing just three earned runs and striking out eight River Hill (13-3, 13-4) batters.
She ended three of the seven innings with strikeouts, each of those times with runners on base.
“Megan has electric stuff when she’s healthy, which she wasn’t earlier this year. And I think you saw today, when she’s hitting her spots she is one of the best pitchers in the county,” Parson said.
River Hill coach Marni Rosenbaum echoed the sentiment that Hughes was the difference.
“She had our number and sometimes it goes like that, where it’s just her day,” she said. “I mean she was striking out people that normally don’t strike out and a few of those came in big spots.”
Marriotts Ridge scored twice in the bottom of the first, highlighted by a RBI triple from Grace Tolle. The Mustangs then added two more in the third on a 2-RBI double from Hughes (2-4), along with one more in the fifth on a RBI by Alex Lindahl that scored Bridget Farrell (double) to make it a 5-0 game.
River Hill took advantage of a RBI single by Jenna Kenyon (2-4) and some errant throws by Marriotts Ridge to get three on the board in the top of the fifth. But the Mustangs never flinched, getting a RBI hit from senior Olivia Buchwald in the bottom half of the inning to up the lead to three again.
Then in the bottom of the sixth, senior Molly Nies (3-3) issued the back-breaking blow with a two-run home run over the fence in right field to make it an 8-3 game.
“All the emotions were there and it was just really exciting to be able to help my team on senior day,” Nies said.
On the day, all nine batters in the Marriotts Ridge lineup registered at least one hit.
River Hill did put two runs on the board in the top of the seventh to make things interesting, getting doubles from Brooke Gettier and Delanie Vintz. But Hughes put an end to any chance of a comeback by getting a strikeout to end the game.
While the loss leaves River Hill a game back of first place in the final county standings, Rosenbaum said she’s been thrilled with her team’s fight to even get into this position.
“Obviously not the way you want to end the [regular] season, but I’m super proud of the way that they played the entire season,” she said. “To come into such a strong county, like we have, and come out of there with only three losses is a tremendous accomplishment.”
Marriott Ridge (11-4, 11-8) — 8, River Hill (13-3, 13-4) — 5
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