Pneumonia forced Chesapeake coach Dennis Thiele to miss his team's first two games. To celebrate his return yesterday at Arundel, the Cougars gave him a cake.
They also gave him a victory.
Angie Zittle had three hits and three RBIs and made a clutch defensive play at the end of the game to help No. 4 Chesapeake defeat No. 8 Arundel, 5-4, in an Anne Arundel County 4A League game yesterday.
Zittle gave Chesapeake (3-0, 3-0) a quick lead with a two-run single in the top of the first. After Jen Fowlkes (three hits, two RBIs) tripled to score Lauren Watson in the third, Zittle singled to make it 4-0.
Chesapeake stretched the lead to 5-1 in the sixth before Arundel (2-1, 2-1) rallied. The Wildcats got an RBI single from Kara Kitchen and Shannon Noon made it 5-4 two batters later with a two-run single.
Arundel left the tying run on third in the sixth and put runners on first and third in the seventh with two outs. Kitchen then lined one off pitcher Niki Carpenter's glove, but second baseman Zittle alertly picked it up near second and stepped on the bag to end the game.
"I was kind of praying I'd get it," said Zittle.
"When I saw it go off Niki's glove, I gave it all I could," she said.
Zittle's game-ending play was one of a few clutch defensive plays the Cougars made late in the game.
Chesapeake caught Noon (two hits, two RBIs) in a rundown between third and home as she tried to tie the game in the sixth.
When Ruth Wilson tried to go from first to third on a single to short right field in the seventh, Chesapeake first baseman Michele Singer nailed her with a perfect throw.
"I'm very pleased," said Thiele. "I'd like to win them by four or five, but I'll take them any way I can get them."
Carpenter pitched well for the Cougars. She went the distance and scattered nine hits while striking out five. The sophomore allowed only four hits in the first five innings before Arundel rallied.
Arundel pitcher Kitchen also went the distance. She threw well but the Cougars came up with a number of hits in clutch situations.
Chesapeake ended up with 12 hits and put runners on base in six of the seven innings. The Cougars left nine, but they converted several scoring chances.