A season that lasted 20 games ended for Severna Park yesterday because of two deflections.
Chesapeake's Tracy Starke drove in the only run on an infield hit in the fifth inning, and the Cougars' defense made a 1-5-3 putout with a runner on second and two out in the seventh to preserve a 1-0 victory in the Class 4A, Region IV softball finals.
The Cougars (20-0), ranked No. 1 in the metro area, are trying to become the first 4A team to win four consecutive state championships. Their state semifinal game will take place at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Randazzo Park, and the final is scheduled for Friday.
Starke's two-out hit came after Natalie Black had singled to center. Pinch runner Melissa Wagner stole second and third, and after a walk to Nancy Yeager, Starke grounded sharply to the left side of the infield. Senior third baseman Christine Winters reached down and deflected the ball, and Wagner scored easily.
"I didn't think I had a base hit," Starke said. "At first, I even said to myself, 'Oh gosh, I get hold of one and it's right to them.' But then I saw it go off her glove."
Stacey Necessary walked to load the bases, but Severna Park freshman Christy Huber (7-4) retired Michelle Manner on a pop-up.
The second-seeded Falcons (15-5) put a runner in scoring position in the last two innings against senior Lori Congdon, who pitched out of jams throughout Friday's 3-0 semifinal win over Arundel.
In the sixth, Jen Spampinato and Amy Patton singled with two out, but Winters struck out looking.
And in the seventh, Amanda Melgaard singled to right-center with one out, and pinch runner Jessica Miller moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brianna Weidman. Senior Carrie Schiavone hit a bouncer up the middle that glanced off Congdon's right hand, to third baseman Yeager, whose low throw to first was fielded on one hop by Laurie Mike.
If the ball had gotten past Mike, the game would have been tied and Chesapeake's winning streak may not have reached 39 games.
Mike made the game's only error in the first inning when she dropped a low throw from shortstop Jaime Long.
"It's pretty fitting that she comes up with the one at the end of the game," said Chesapeake coach Dennis Thiele. "Everybody was on their toes. If Nancy hadn't been on her toes, she wouldn't have been able to make the play. How many third basemen do you see, after the ball is hit somewhere else, relax a little bit? She didn't. She pounced right on it and made the throw."
Huber gave up three hits, including a single by Michele Singer, walked three and struck out four. She also had pitched well in losing to Chesapeake, 3-0, earlier this season.
"She's got college maturity for a ninth-grader. It's unbelievable," said Severna Park coach Wayne Mook.