A freshman started it and a freshman ended it as top-ranked Chesapeake rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh to squeak by No. 9 Glen Burnie, 3-2 in Lake Shore yesterday.
In what was a day for underclassmen, the Cougars (3-0) took advantage of six errors by the defending, but very young and inexperienced Class 4A champions.
Glen Burnie sophomore pitcher Denise Schultheis deserved a better fate in holding the Cougars to five hits, but hurt herself in the Gophers' season opener. Schultheis walked freshman Sarah Vogt to start the bottom of the seventh.
Three errors later Vogt scored the tying run and fellow freshman Kristen Wheeler grounded a shot between first and second with one out and the bases loaded to score Michelle Cappe with the game-winner.
It was the second straight game that Wheeler delivered a crucial hit in the in the bottom of the seventh. On Wednesday, she tripled in the tying run and scored the winner on a wild pitch for an 8-7 triumph over Broadneck.
Wheeler's hit yesterday came on a 1-2 pitch from Schultheis, who struck out three and walked five on 112 pitches, 63 of them strikes.
"Denise pitched a great game, but one of the runs allowed was a walk," said Gophers coach Bob Broccolino, who lost seven starters to graduation and had only two seniors in his lineup yesterday.
In comparison, winning pitcher junior Erin Taylor did not walk a batter, gave up six hits, one earned run and struck out two on just 59 pitches, 45 for strikes.
"I keep telling them, you can't walk people, but I'm real satisfied with Denise," said Broccolino. "It was really her first varsity experience pitching. She pitched maybe three innings against Annapolis last year and mostly played left field."
Schultheis had escaped jams in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, taking a 2-1 lead into the Cougars' final at-bat.
"We knocked on the door but couldn't buy a run, but the kids believe in themselves and remind me a lot of my '93 team, the last year I won the state championship," said Chesapeake coach Dennis Thiele.
Thiele thought it was "a well-played game" despite nine errors, three by his Cougars, and attributed the sloppy play to early season.
The Cougars' left-handed catcher, Kareem Falcon, who bats right, led off the fourth inning by lining a triple down the left-field line.
Justine Wagner (2-for-4) followed with a one-hopper to shortstop Kristen Shacklock, whose perfect throw to senior catcher Jamie Dotson cut down Falcon on a close play.
Dotson, who has played behind two All-Metro catchers, did an excellent job blocking the plate.
In the fifth, the Cougars left the bases loaded when Schultheis coaxed Wagner into a come-backer and it was Schultheis to first baseman Tiffany Jordan to end the sixth, only in spectacular fashion this time.
With a runner on third, Kristen Bishoff drilled a shot off Schultheis' right leg just below the knee cap. From her knees, Schultheis threw Bishoff out at first by a step.
Falcon scored an unearned run to give Chesapeake a 1-0 lead in the first inning but the Gophers forged ahead with single runs in the second and third innings. Junior Felicia Smith's infield hit scored sophomore Chris Bounelis with the first Gophers run.
Freshman center fielder Tina Willis doubled to lead off the Glen Burnie third and came home when Taylor threw away freshman Amy Rainier's sacrifice bunt.
Pub Date: 3/27/99