The tag "nine-time state champs" was attached to the Northeast Eagles during introductions of yesterday's Class 3A state semifinal at Randazzo Park.
Damascus wasn't fazed.
The Hornets from Montgomery County came with a history of their own and left looking to add some more after a solid 3-1 win that eliminated the defending champion Eagles.
Damascus, which has won three state titles, will chase after a fourth tomorrow against Thomas Stone, while the No. 2-ranked Eagles (20-5) will think back to the bottom of the third and the top of the seventh of yesterday's disappointing ending.
"We just didn't connect," said Northeast coach Marianne Shultz.
Her Eagles had the bases loaded with no outs and the top of the order up in the third, but couldn't get anything across in a game that was still scoreless.
Damascus quickly came back in the fourth with three straight one-out singles - Jenni Cahill's liner past second scoring Nicole Wilson - to take a 1-0 lead.
"That was big," said Northeast senior Renee Springston. "We definitely had to get something with the bases loaded, but sometimes things don't go your way."
The top of the seventh, right after the Eagles didn't take advantage of a one-out triple from Erin Gray in the prior half inning, was proof it wasn't their day.
The Hornets (19-1) added two vital insurance runs with a bloop single behind first, a bloop double that hit the line behind third and a third bloop, this one behind second base, to make it 3-0.
The Eagles would get one run back with Melissa Tewey's leadoff double the spark, but Damascus junior pitcher Jessica Wides, who improved to 12-0, eventually would get Springston to ground out to second for the final out.
The Hornets were opportunistic at the plate, flawless and at times sparkling in the field, and got a solid performance from Wides, who allowed just four hits. "All year we've focused on error-free defense and putting the ball in play to put the pressure on the other team," said Damascus coach Barb King. "We thought going in it was two even teams and it turned out to be a very good game. We were able to put the pressure on and capitalize on some things, but the game could have gone either way."
Said Shultz: "Unfortunately for us this season we usually really crush the ball or we don't hit the ball. It was a little bit of a struggle today. [Wides] wasn't overwhelming, but she was consistent and got the job done. She moved the ball around and had the defense to support her."
North County 2, Springbrook 1: Crissy Suit lined a single past short to score Caitlin Burns with the winning run in the eighth. The Knights (18-4) tied the score in the bottom of the seventh when sophomore Heather Frye dumped a single to left to score a run. North County, making its first state final appearance, will take on Eleanor Roosevelt at 6 p.m. tomorrow. Pitcher Brittany Boyd allowed just three hits to get the win.
E. Roosevelt 4, Parkville 8 North County 2, Springbrook 8
Thomas Stone 10, Franklin 0
Damascus 3, Northeast-AA 1
Atholton 1, Catonsville 0
Easton 2, Urbana 0
Rising Sun 3, Catoctin 1
Southern-G 6, St. Michael's 0
(At Randazzo Park, Severn)
Class 3A, 6 p.m., Class 4A, 6 p.m.
Friday's games, Class 1A, 6 p.m.
Class 2A, 6 p.m.