The Glen Burnie Gophers are now at 15 wins this season and each has come with its very own heroes.
Yesterday at Randazzo Park, it was sophomore catcher Jessica Griffith who provided the clutch at-bat and senior Kristen Shacklock's turn on the mound.
The No. 3-ranked Gophers' reward was a feel-good, 3-1 victory over No. 2 Northeast and the Anne Arundel County championship.
Griffith lined a two-out triple just fair down the third-base line to bring home two in the top of the sixth to snap a 1-1 tie.
Shacklock went into the sixth having given up one run and three hits before giving way to Willis, who got the last six outs for the save.
"This is the way we've done it all year. It's a different player every game coming up with the big play," said Glen Burnie coach Bob Broccolino, whose Gophers (15-3) open the Class 4A East Region playoffs against Meade on Monday.
Griffith had two strikes on her when she pulled Rachel Herrick's change-up down the third-base line for the game-winning triple.
"When she got to third, I think her knees were shaking," said Broccolino. "We've been talking to her for over a month that she just has to relax. She puts so much pressure on herself and she's only a sophomore. That was huge."
Broccolino went out of turn in his three-pitcher rotation to give Shacklock the opportunity to pitch in a county championship game.
She responded well, getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning and then yielding one run in the second before settling in.
"I was nervous in the beginning, this being my first county championship game I played. But I simmered down and did what I had to do," she said. "This year's been great. We've all come together and decided we want to go all the way."
Willis came on in the sixth with a runner on first. She struck out two and then got a nice play from shortstop Stephanie Stoll, who replaced Willis when she went to the mound. Stoll back-handed a Kristin Duvall grounder deep in the hole and got the throw to first just in time to end the inning.
The Eagles (16-4) and two runners on in the seventh before Willis got Erin Gray swinging at a 3-2 fastball to close out the game.
Spalding advances to final
Seton Keough conceded its final three outs of Wednesday's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference Tournament semifinal against Spalding.