Fourth-ranked Centennial took a huge step toward reclaiming the Howard County softball title yesterday with a 14-2 win at No. 9 Glenelg.
The defending champion Gladiators (8-2 overall, 5-1 league) helped the Eagles along with six errors. They committed five in a 12-run Centennial fifth inning that gave the Eagles a big enough lead to invoke the 10-run rule, ending the game after five innings.
The Eagles (9-1, 6-0) now take over sole possession of first place in the league. Glenelg stands second, with No. 10 Atholton and Mount Hebron, third with two league losses each.
Because he still has to face each of those teams one more time, Centennial coach Dale Huting remains cautious although optimistic.
"All the good teams in the county are capable of winning against each other and that gives us the comfort that if we lose one of those games coming up, we'll still be in the race for the county championship. It's nice to be able to go home to the spring break with that," said Huting, whose team lost twice to Glenelg last season.
Yesterday, the Eagles got another solid performance from senior right-hander Kim May, who struck out three, walked one and allowed three hits.
Early on, May and Glenelg's sophomore pitcher Marni Brown (three strikeouts, four walks, six hits) appeared headed for a heated pitchers' duel. Each allowed only one base runner through the first three innings.
Then Centennial got two runs in the fourth. Marcie Kunkel had an RBI single and later scored on a dropped fly ball whipped around by the wind in right field.
But Glenelg answered quickly with four runs in its half of the inning. The Gladiators used one hit, a walk, four stolen bases and the Eagles' only error of the game to score two.
Jessie Lombardi drove in one run. The other scored when Centennial catcher Brittany Deuchler tried to gun down Bethany Carroll headed for third base. The ball hit Carroll and caromed out of play scoring the run.
After that, there were no more highlights for the Gladiators. The game got completely away from them in the fifth inning.
The Eagles sent 16 batters to the plate and scored 12 runs in the inning. Seven runs had scored before the Gladiators managed a single out.
Batting fourth in the inning, Jodi Godbout drove in the first two runs with a single up the middle. Lindsay von Paris, Karyn Leineweber and Terri Bickerton also had run-scoring singles in the inning.
"It just snowballed," said Glenelg coach Chuck Struhar. "Once it started rolling, we couldn't stop it. We didn't play Glenelg softball. We're not that good to go out and kick the ball around like that and say, 'OK, let's go score 10 runs.' We don't score 10 runs that often."
In the bottom of the inning, the Gladiators managed one base runner, Meghan Goetz who had two of the hits off May. The freshman singled after smacking the game's only extra-base hit, a double, in the third inning.
* Mount Hebron 12, Oakland Mills 0: Jenny Joyce pitched a six-inning perfect game, striking out seven batters as Mount Hebron (5-4) topped visiting Oakland Mills. Vikings catcher Kathy Kiersarsky went 2-for-2 with a double, home run and four RBIs.