Michelle McDonagh just wants to play.
"I don't mind behind the DH," said the Atholton junior outfielder. "I like whacking the ball."
In the role of designated hitter yesterday, McDonagh broke a tie score with two outs in the fifth inning, whacking a bases-loaded triple to send the third-ranked Raiders to a 7-3 win over visiting River Hill.
The victory broke River Hill's three-game winning streak against Atholton that began last season.
"We finally did it," said Atholton senior catcher Sarah Costa, whose team was beaten, 1-0, by the Hawks earlier this season. "It's relief. It's just a good feeling."
Singles by Katie Zitnay and Kelly Kemp put runners on first and second for Atholton with one out in the fifth. River Hill pitcher Shannon Jackson struck out Katie MacFarland on a 3-2 pitch for the second out. Atholton's Colette Pond got ahead on the count, 3-0, before Jackson threw two strikes. Pond than fouled off two pitches before drawing a walk and loading the bases for McDonagh.
McDonagh, hitting .200 and batting eighth in the lineup, hit a 1-0 pitch past the center fielder for her first career triple.
McDonagh said that teammates and coaches had been encouraging her in practice to "put my whole body" into her swing. She did.
"I thought this would be a perfect time to use my hips and drive it," McDonagh said.
Atholton (15-1 overall, 13-1 league) used two hits, an error and a passed ball two score twice in the opening inning. The Raiders added another run in the second when McDonagh was hit by Jackson in the back of her left shoulder, then scored four batters later on a two-out error.
River Hill (10-6, 8-6) scored once in the fourth on a sacrifice bunt by Tara Fadrowski, then tied the score with two runs in the fifth on a RBI double from Aneesha Griffin and a groundout by Jackson.
Jackson, who battled her control all game, allowed eight hits, struck out seven and walked three. Zitnay struck out six, walked none and allowed five hits, two by Jackson.
"I thought it was an all-around good game from both teams," said Zitnay, who, like leadoff hitter Karen Lee, had two hits. "Both teams had a lot of support from fans, which was nice."
Atholton maintains its one-game lead over Howard (12-2, 12-2) for its third straight county title. The Raiders and Lions meet Friday at Atholton.