Rachel Herrick thinks her Northeast softball team is capable of winning a state title this month. Severna Park coach Jeff Shepherd would agree.
Northeast, ranked second in the metro area, added another achievement to an already hefty resume by blanking the No. 5 Falcons, 7-0, in the Anne Arundel championship at Randazzo Park in Severn yesterday.
The Eagles' second county crown in three seasons continues a year in which the Pasadena school won its first Cavalier Classic and continued to ride the crest of a 13-game winning streak.
All of which has Herrick eyeing a Class 3A state title. The playoffs begin tomorrow.
"I think if we keep playing the way we have been, we can," said the senior pitcher, who was a member of Northeast's 1999 state championship squad. "We have a lot of potential to go far."
Eagles coach Marianne Shultz wasn't willing to look that far ahead, but she was excited about her team's mental state yesterday.
"I think they were extremely aggressive, extremely fired up," Shultz said. "We have been working to this goal, and ultimately this is the beginning of a new season for us."
Although the Eagles (18-3) could manage just six hits off Severna Park pitcher Laura Gibson (14-4), they took advantage of six Falcons errors and RBI triples from Herrick and third baseman Steph Adams.
Herrick's no-out blast to left field in the top of the first inning drove in two runs. Adams' towering shot down the left-field line highlighted a five-run sixth for Northeast.
Adams, who was 2-for-4 at the plate, said the Eagles were well aware that Severna Park had handed them one of their three losses.
"We always say, 'Hey, it's revenge,' " Adams said, alluding to a 1-0 setback on April 9. "They beat us the first time. We weren't going to let that happen again."
The Falcons (15-5) were led by 2-for-3 performances by catcher Jen Chambers and first baseman Erin O'Keefe, but were shut down by Herrick (8-0) who scattered five hits in a complete-game shutout.
Shepherd said that the Eagles are hitting the ball hard "and that forces you to make mistakes."
"There's no question in my mind that they will win the 3A state championship," Shepherd said.