Talk to Chesapeake-AA coach Don Ellenberger about the undefeated pitcher, the offensive hero of the particular day or any other player from the No. 1 Cougars about the team's near-flawless season and one word is almost certain to enter the conversation: focus.
With No. 5 North County visiting yesterday, it was Jessica Fogle's turn to buckle down in the last of the seventh inning. Her two-out infield single made junior pitcher Lindsay Ettinger and the Cougars a 2-1 winner - their 12th straight victory - and guaranteed them a spot in the Anne Arundel County championship game.
"All day everybody was pumped up and excited and we just brought it to the game," said Ettinger, who improved to 12-0 with a five-hitter that featured seven strikeouts. "We were thinking about [clinching the county championship berth]. We knew it was a big game and we'd have to play our best. ... The keyword is focus - when we come out focused, we know we're going to do well."
Chesapeake's 1-0 lead vanished in the top of the seventh when North County's Jennifer Roantes provided a two-out, two-strike single to score Heather Frye. The Cougars (16-1, 13-0 county) found yet another way to win, with Fogle's sharp grounder bouncing off the ankle of pitcher Beth Mullins to allow Kristen Siskey to score the game-winner from third.
North County third baseman Julie Krieger quickly collected the ball, but her throw to first base was just late to get Fogle.
"We were very nervous, but knew we had to get a run. I was just hoping I would get a hit," said Fogle.
The Knights, who handed the Cougars their only loss (a 1-0 setback in Spalding's annual Cavalier Classic), fell to 12-4 overall and 8-4 in the county. North County coach Bobby Boyd was hoping yesterday would be like last year, when his Knights tied the score in the top of the seventh at Chesapeake and won in extra innings.
Now, he's hoping for another chance at the Cougars in the county championship, set for May 8 at Randazzo Park. North County, Glen Burnie and Severna Park are battling for second place.
Yesterday, he left pleased with his team's character in coming back to tie the game and impressed with Ettinger.
For Ellenberger, another close win couldn't have been better-timed.
"Being able to squeeze out a one-run game helps our confidence, especially getting close to the county championship game and playoffs," he said. "Defensively, we did everything we needed to do. Our pitching has kept us in every game and we've got the timely hitting."