Westminster, a softball team with no home runs and just 14 extra base hits, has depended upon strong pitching, defense and clutch hitting to post 10 wins this season.
The pitching and defense were sharp yesterday at Westminster, but the clutch hit was missing, as the Owls (10-4 overall, 7-4 CMC) jostled with Urbana (14-2, 8-2 CMC) for positioning in the final week of the Central Maryland Conference season.
The Owls came out on the short end of a taut 1-0 pitching duel, garnering just four singles against one of the area's leading pitchers, Stephanie Lovett.
Lovett, an All-Area player last season, is headed to Catawba on a partial softball scholarship. She entered the game with an 0.56 ERA and 11 wins, and she kept the Owls off-balance with a devastating changeup with which she struck out the final two Westminster batters.
Only Owls leadoff batter Casey Brengle, last season's Carroll County Player of the Year, drove fear into Lovett. Brengle, who has five triples, singled to start the first and fifth innings, reaching third base once. She was on-deck when the game ended.
"I couldn't figure out where to put it against Brengle," Lovett said. "She hit a low one and a high inside one. I didn't want to face her again."
Westminster put runners in scoring position three times against Urbana, a team with eight seniors that reached the state semifinals last season.
The Owls touched Lovett for back-to-back singles by Brengle and Shannon Hunt to begin the game - Hunt's hit deflecting off the bag at third.
They had two aboard in the fourth inning on Alexa Ashwell's single to right field and an error.
And Brengle reached third base in the fifth inning.
"We just couldn't get the big hit that we've been getting," Westminster coach Bryan Schumacher said.
Nichol Moeller matched Lovet nearly pitch for pitch in the entertaining contest, allowing five hits to a team that began the game with a .405 batting average.
Unfortunately, three of those hits came in a row with two outs in the second inning - a double by Laura Hamilton, a single by Nicki Eshleman and a game-winning single by Bri Yoho that barely eluded the back-hand attempt by Owls shortstop Krystal Dixon.
An inning-ending running catch by Owls center fielder Nikki Waltz saved Moeller in the third inning as Urbana stranded two runners.