The 2000 North County Knights will be remembered as a feisty, close-knit group of players who hit the ball very hard.
They also will be known as the team that brought the Ferndale school its first Class 4A state softball championship.
The No.3-ranked Knights left little suspense yesterday, scoring five times in the first inning against overmatched Eleanor Roosevelt and leaving Randazzo Park with a satisfying 12-0 state championship win that needed just five innings.
Sophomore pitcher Brittany Boyd, dominating throughout the Knights' postseason run, allowed three hits. And North County pounded out nine hits - four for extra bases - to win their 12th straight game and finish the season with a 19-4 mark.
The state championship was the first in a girls sport for North County and the school's second; a 1994 football title was the first.
After the three team captains and coach Brian Love were asked to step forward to claim the state championship plaque, Love quickly waved the remaining seniors over. The rest followed.
"We had the experience - strong senior leadership - and mixed in were some fresh faces. We had the great chemistry you have to have," said Love. "There were some rough times, but we pulled together and played as a team, like a family. They were very focused and knew what they wanted."
That was obvious early yesterday. Senior leadoff batter Miranda Cole smashed a ball to deep left that was misplayed for a two-base error. Senior Crissy Suit later sent one to deep center, ending at third with a run scored.
Senior Linda Parks drove in another with a double, and after the inning was over - a walk and two more Roosevelt errors also in the fold - the Knights were well on their way with the 5-0 lead.
"With Brittany on the mound and our defense solid, we knew all we had to do was hit and we'd win some games," said Suit. "But by the end of the season, we were hitting the cover off the ball."
The hard part turned out to have been Tuesday's semifinal against Springbrook, when the Knights were trailing 1-0 and down to their final out when sophomore Heather Frye tied the score with a single in the bottom of the seventh.
An inning later, Suit drove in the game-winning run that sent the Knights to their first final.
"We had never been to this level before [but] we came out [yesterday] with our A game-plus - that was our best game this season," Love said.
Said Parks: "All we kept saying throughout was that this wasn't going to be our last game. ... This is beyond words."
Roosevelt, a one-time state champ from Prince George's County, was in its fourth state final, the first since 1998. The Raiders came in with 20 wins - and left impressed.
"No team has hit the ball like that right through their entire lineup," said Roosevelt coach Billy Hunter. "For them to have four losses, it shows the level they are playing at in Anne Arundel County. We just don't see that on a regular basis, and I think that hurts us when we get here."
Along with her strong showing on the mound, Boyd (2-for-3, three RBIs, two runs) helped herself with a bases-loaded triple in the fourth. Junior Caitlin Burns, Frye, Suit and Parks also scored two runs each.
(At Randazzo Park, Severn)
North County 12, E. Roosevelt 0 Class 3A
Thomas Stone 1, Damascus 0
Atholton vs. Easton, 6 p.m.
Rising Sun vs. Southern-Garrett, 6 p.m.