It was only the fourth inning and her team led Western by one run, but Dulaney coach Elaine Lindsay felt as if the lead was insurmountable.
The reason for her confidence? Junior left-hander Julie Green.
Green had a perfect game for 3 2/3 innings and went on to pitch a two-hitter, as the fourth-seeded Lions edged the top-seeded and host Doves (14-2), 1-0, in a Class 4A, Region II semifinal yesterday.
Dulaney (9-3) will play at No. 12 Perry Hall in today's 1 p.m. final.
"Julie was really in a groove," Lindsay said. "She had great control. And they hadn't really shown me with their swings that they could get a hold of the ball, so I really did think that was going to be it."
Green, who overpowered the Doves with her fastballs and riseballs, struck out five and did not allow a walk or a runner past second.
She out-dueled Western senior right-hander Tracy Gruzs, who also yielded two hits. Gruzs finished with 12 strikeouts, including nine of the first 12 batters she faced.
Gruzs allowed her first hit in the fourth, but it was a big one. Dulaney's Jen Jones tripled over the head of center fielder Kyndra Bolden, and scored when Bolden missed the cutoff and the ball trickled into the infield. It was the second extra-base hit Gruzs had given up this season.
"I heard she had a really good inside pitch, so I set up like I was ready for an inside pitch," Jones said. "I figured she'd throw it outside, and that's the pitch I hit."
Bolden, who usually plays left field, was moved to center in place of Kim Osborne, who broke her ankle against Forest Park Monday.
The Doves committed three errors, and Dulaney played flawlessly behind Green. The Lions infield handled 15 chances without an error.
"Our infield has been our weak point throughout the season, but we came through today," Green said. "We worked really hard this week in practice, and I was really proud of my team."
Western's only scoring threat came in the fifth when Rachel Pedersen led off with a double down the left-field line. But Green escaped after retiring the next three batters on a strikeout, a popout and a comebacker to the mound.
Green retired the side in order in the sixth and seventh.
"We haven't really hit against a pitcher this fast," Western coach Diane Lawton said. "Dulaney's very solid. To come up just one run short, I'm not embarrassed."
* Dundalk 8, Catonsville 1: Catonsville's Angelique McDonald gave up four runs on eight walks in the first inning and Dundalk (13-2) went on to defeat the Comets (8-5) in a Class 3A, Region II semifinal. Dundalk sophomore right-hander Katie Marsheck -Z pitched a three-hitter and struck out 10.