The pitching and hitting havealways been there for North Carroll. Coach Lloyd Ford was just waiting for the hitting to catch up.
Ford got his wish yesterday as the Panthers used an offensive spurt in the first two innings to defeat Central Maryland Conference rival and visiting Frederick, 6-1, in Hampstead.
No. 9 North Carroll capitalized on two Cadets errors and two wild pitches by senior right-hander Amanda Chapman to score two runs in the first inning and four more in the second.
With their third consecutive victory, the Panthers (3-0 overall, 1-0 in the conference) gained a measure of revenge against Frederick, which pinned North Carroll with one of two conference losses last season -- a turn of events that allowed the Cadets to grab a share of the conference championship from the Panthers.
"We knew that last year they played a really good game against us," said sophomore shortstop Kristy Shaffer, who smacked a double and crossed the plate twice for North Carroll. "We wanted to prove a point, that we're good and we can beat anyone."
The Panthers, who were Class 3A state finalists last season, have outscored their opponents, 13-3, and all three runs have been unearned. But Ford said he was pleased to see his team's bats make some noise.
"We hit the ball better today than we have in our first couple of games," Ford said. "It gave us an opportunity to take advantage of some of the mistakes [Frederick] made."
The Cadets (3-3 overall, 1-2 in the conference) were hamperedby errors from the start. After North Carroll senior catcher and leadoff batter Beth Reeb blooped a single between left and center fields, Frederick senior first baseman Laura Jobe mishandled a Shaffer dribbler and overthrew senior second baseman Faith Rebernik, who was covering first.
The error allowed Reeb to score from first base and Shaffer to advance to second. After a groundout by sophomore designated hitter Katie Riley allowed Shaffer to move to third, she scored on an RBI groundout by junior right fielder Becky Wike to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead.
North Carroll earned four more runs in the second on an error by Cadets sophomore center fielder Nicole Fuller, a one-out RBI single by senior pitcher Lisa Tunney and two wild pitches by Chapman.
Those runs would be all Tunney would need as the hard-throwing right-hander struck out seven Frederick hitters and rendered moot an unearned run in the seventh.
Cadets coach Todd Bono said the key was his team's slow start.
"We made some mistakes defensively, and it took us a couple of innings to settle down," he said. "We didn't make them earn every run. I'm very impressed with them."