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Marriotts Ridge softball defeats Glenelg, 6-3, in season opener

HOWARD COUNTY, MD — It might still be March, but Marriotts Ridge softball isn’t shying away from its own lofty postseason expectations.

The parting words in the team huddle following its 6-3 win over last year’s co-Howard County champions Glenelg on Monday proved as much: “One, two, three, states!” they all yelled in unison.

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“These girls have been working since November in the weight room working out. We’ve got a lot of talent here and that’s what we expect,” said Mustangs coach Renard Parson, who returns to the helm after being head coach from 2011 to 2013. “We want to set the bar high and we want to push ourselves to get into the state final four and win a state title. That’s our goal and we’ll be disappointed with anything less.

“We’re pushing to be the team to beat and we’re not going to shy away from that. But we definitely need to clean some things up.”

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With 19 returning All-County players back this spring, Howard County is hoping for a postseason breakthrough.

Marriotts Ridge senior ace Mikayla Barnard was effective enough in five innings in the circle while the team’s bats — specifically in the middle of the order — woke up in time to erase a 3-1 deficit with two runs in the fourth, one in the fifth and two more in the sixth in both team’s season opener.

Barnard hit four batters and walked four more, including two of each after getting the first two outs of the game, to walk in a run in the first inning, but she mostly settled in from there. She struck out eight and allowed three runs despite the Gladiators mustering just three hits off her in five innings of work.

Sophomore Megan Hughes closed the door by striking out five of the seven batters she faced in two innings. Parson said she has “electric stuff” and he expects her to push Barnard for the top spot in the rotation.

“It wasn’t our best but it happens and we won,” Barnard said. “The strike zone was a little tight, which was hard to work with, but when we played them last year we were down 1-0 and we came back, so [being down 3-1] didn’t shake us. We just kept playing hard.”

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Barnard, Molly Nies, and Romy and Alex Lindahl each had a pair of hits for the Mustangs against Glenelg junior Amy Stetser, who pitched well against one of the league’s best lineups but had too many errors behind her. The Gladiators had five overall, including two that allowed Marriotts Ridge to score twice in the fourth inning and tie the game at three.

Nies’ RBI single in the fifth was all the cushion the Mustangs needed but they created more separation in the sixth thanks for an RBI triple from Barnard and RBI single by Romy Lindahl. Overall, six different players scored each of Marriotts Ridge’s runs.

For Glenelg, the sloppy defense, along with the inability to get a clutch hit against Barnard, was the difference, according to coach Ray Gerstner.

The 2017 Howard County softball all-county package featuring Player of the Year, Howard senior pitcher Ally Wieman.

“Back to basics,” he said. “ That’s almost two extra innings. You can’t make errors and win games, that’s all it comes down to. ... We never had a clutch hit. We were always waiting for that next person. You’ve got to be that person. Somebody’s got to step up to that plate big.”

Shannoy Vassel, hitting in the eighth spot, reached base all three times and had a single and an RBI triple to lead the Gladiators offensively. Maddie Wingert has an RBI walk in the first inning and Taylor Rice drove in their final run in the fourth inning on a groundout.

The next two weeks will be a barometer for the Mustangs, who face Mt. Hebron and Wilde Lake later this week and then play Howard and Reservoir on back-to-back days in early April. Parson said getting the season started with a victory in the cold weather was an important step in what will be a compacted schedule.

“We have several teams circled but definitely Glenelg, co-champions last year, we know they’re one of the teams to beat,” he said. “So we wanted to come out and play a solid softball game. We wanted to play better and I’m happy, but we’ve got to clean some things up. We’re much better than this.”

Marriotts Ridge (1-0 county, 1-0 overall) — 6, Glenelg (0-1, 0-1) — 3

123 456 7 R-H-E

G 100 200 0 3-4-5

MR 010 212 x 6-9-3

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