Faced with its biggest test of the season, the North Carroll softball team solved its hitting problems yesterday.
Shedding a week-long offensive slump, the No. 12 Panthers unleashed a nine-hit barrage and beat visiting Urbana, 4-0, in Hampstead.
Senior pitcher Lisa Tunney gave up just two hits and struck out three Hawks while improving to 6-2 on the mound.
Offensively, the North Carroll bats tagged three runs on Urbana junior right-hander Stephanie Lovett, who had allowed just two hits in a 1-0 loss to the Panthers on April 7.
"I think we came out today knowing that we had to prove something to ourselves," said junior second baseman Trisha Brown, who went 2-for-4 and had a hand in two of North Carroll's runs. "In the past games, we had people on base, but we didn't execute to bring them home. Everybody did everything they were supposed to today."
The Panthers (11-3 overall and 7-3 in the Central Maryland Conference) were reeling from a two-game losing skid during which they produced a total of two runs and seven hits.
North Carroll hadn't lost two games in a row since 1998.
"We're not used to losing two in a row, but it's something that's going to happen to every team," said coach Lloyd Ford. "I was real pleased with the way they responded."
The Panthers got their first run in the third inning. Senior catcher Beth Reeb lined a one-out single to left and was replaced by pinch runner Katie Riley. Riley advanced when Kristy Shaffer drew a walk.
An error by Hawks senior shortstop Carrie Geouge on a grounder by third baseman Angie Springer loaded the bases for Brown, who skipped an 0-1 pitch into left field and drove in Riley.
In the fifth, Brown opened with another single and was replaced by pinch runner Valerie Mathis. After a sacrifice bunt, center fielder Tiffany Langan reached on an infield single and stole second.
Candice Jeffery then bounced the ball to Urbana senior Laura Hamilton, whose throw home eluded catcher Casi Lambert and allowed Mathis to score. Junior Becky Wike took Lambert's next pitch and singled to right to drive in Langan for a 3-0 lead.
North Carroll closed the scoring with a two-out single from Carrie Blout that drove in Springer.
That's all the run support Tunney would need as she threw just 63 pitches in seven innings and faced only two more batters than the minimum.