It became obvious early yesterday afternoon: the only thing that could stop top-ranked Archbishop Spalding from the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference crown was the weather.
The Cavaliers put up three runs in the first inning against Mount de Sales and then all that was left was whether sophomore pitcher Jessica Saunders would finish the day perfect.
After Saunders retired the first 18 Sailors in order, disrupted with a 30-minute delay due to lightning in the third inning, Cynthia Clark led off the top of the seventh with a bunt single. That was all Saunders and the Cavaliers would surrender in coming away with a 3-0 win at Towson University.
New league, same old results. In the 90s, Spalding captured 10 regular-season titles and eight tournament championships playing in the Catholic League.
The Cavaliers have picked up where they left off, sweeping the IAAM and improving to 23-0 this season
All that remains for the Cavaliers is a bid for their third straight Independent Schools state championship, which begins May 24.
Spalding coach Linda Taylor was asked to stack up this group with all the others."That's a tough question," she said. "I've had so many quality players and teams come and go. This team is the most well-rounded I've ever had and it has more depth than any other. I just have so much confidence in each of the players, it's making my job easy."
Christine Sheridan helped yesterday with a double down the third-base line that scored two in the first. She moved to third on a wild pitch and then made it 3-0 when Saunders grounded out to second."It was an inside pitch and I just turned on it. Luckily, it stayed fair," said Sheridan, who went 3-for-3 with two doubles."That gave us a real nice cushion."I've known Jess [Saunders] for a long time and I know she comes through in the clutch situations."
That was certainly the case yesterday as Saunders improved to 14-0, striking out the side twice and finishing with 12 strikeouts. She now has 166 in 111 innings this spring.
Losing the perfect game came quickly in the seventh. Clark, on a 2-0 count, put down a bunt that died in front of the plate, and she easily beat the throw to first."In the seventh, I wasn't really thinking about the perfect game until she laid down the bunt. After that I was just thinking about getting out of the inning and getting us the win," said Saunders."Everything was working. Mount de Sales has a good bunch of hitters so I was trying to move my pitches around and basically stayed with the heat."
No. 1 Mount Hebron 29, Howard 4: Kristen Waagbo and Lauren Kickham each had four goals to lead the host Vikings (15-0) past Howard (3-13) in the 3A-2A-1A South Region quarterfinal.
Centennial 17, Lansdowne 0: Ashley Evans and Eva Armanas eached scored four goals to pace the visiting Eagles (9-4) to the 3A-2A-1A South Region quarterfinal victory.
Hammond 21, Oakland Mills 2: Dara Liberati had six goals and Stacy Umberger, Courtney Vaughan and Kelly Berger each had three to lead the Golden Bears (8-6) over host Oakland Mills (4-12) in a 3A-2A-1A South quarterfinal.
Catoctin 13, Atholton 12: Michelle McKenna had seven goals, but the host Raiders (3-12) fell short in their 3A-2A-1A West Region quarterfinal contest.
No. 14 Glenelg 21, Rockville 1: Lindsay Ricks had four goals and Kate Nicol and Erin Edell added three each to pace the host Gladiators (14-2) in their 3A-2A-1A West quarterfinal.
Centennial 18, Lansdowne 1: Tom Eckes scored four goals and had two assists and David Paolisso scored three goals and had two assists in the Eagles' (11-1) Class 3A-2A-1A South quarterfinal victory over the Vikings.
Glenelg 17, Rockville 1: Pat Beall scored four goals and had three assists and Shane Baxter scored four goals and had one assist in the Gladiators' (11-4) Class 3A-2A-1A South Region quarterfinal victory.
River Hill 14, South Carroll 5: Justin Clark scored seven goals and had one assist and Scott Kenworthy scored two goals and had three assists in the Hawks' (11-3) Class 4A-3A North victory over the Cavaliers.