Severna Park shortstop Lauren Haag figured the pressure would be on the Northeast softball team to beat her Falcons team for the third time this season.
Haag was right. No. 13 Severna Park broke a yearlong hex and knocked off the No. 12 Eagles, 5-1, in the Class 3A East regional championship yesterday at Randazzo Park in Severn.
The Falcons had dropped two straight meetings to Northeast, but Haag said the team wasn't too worried yesterday.
"We thought that the odds were with us since it's hard to win three in a row," said the junior, who reached base in all four at-bats and scored twice. "We really believed in ourselves."
Severna Park, the region's No. 3 seed, captured its third regional championship and second since 1999. The Falcons, who won their only state title in 1987, will meet the West Regional champion - either No. 9 North Carroll or Richard Montgomery - in a state semifinal at Randazzo Park at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Randazzo Park.
Severna Park (16-7) inflicted most of its damage in a four-run third inning that featured an RBI triple by senior Ashley Wojtowycz and an RBI single by senior Laura Gibson.
The Eagles (16-7), a 3A state finalist last season, scored a run in the fifth off a fielding error. But a Northeast error allowed the Falcons to add an insurance run in the sixth and seal the win.
Gibson, Severna Park's pitcher, struck out seven en route to improving to 14-6.
Eagles coach Marianne Shultz said beating the same team for the third time in the same season may have been a mental roadblock for her squad.
"That may have had an effect," she said. "They can get [my pitcher's] timing down, and it's harder to get more motivated to win a third time."
No. 8 Fallston 4, Franklin 1: Sophomore Steph Schultz broke a 1-1 tie with a home run in the third inning and sophomore Allison Borchers hit a two-run shot in the seventh as the visiting Cougars (19-1) claimed the 3A North title by downing the Indians (17-3).
Senior Chrissy Luers struck out six and surrendered just six hits in the losing effort. Franklin got its only run in the first when senior Nikki Patton tripled home Suzy Gill, who led off the game with a single.
Junior Heather Donhauser allowed just three hits for the Cougars, who also got two doubles from sophomore Kirsten Wells.
No. 9 North Carroll 2, Richard Montgomery 0: In the 3A West final, the visiting Panthers (17-4) scored two unearned runs in the first inning and freshman pitcher Jessica Smith did the rest, pitching a complete-game six-hitter to lead North Carroll to a win over the host Rockets (17-2).
North Carroll advances to face 3A East winner Severna Park.
No. 7 North County 10, Frederick 4: Sophomore Danielle Martinez's inside-the-park grand slam in the sixth broke a 3-3 tie and sparked the Knights (19-5) to their second 4A East regional title in three seasons.
Freshman pitcher Beth Mullins (12-2) struck out eight as North County - which won its only state crown in 2000 - will meet the West regional champion - either Magruder or Damascus - in a state semifinal at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Randazzo Park. Frederick fell to 20-4.
Perry Hall 10, Western 0: Lauren Swiecicki pitched her third shutout of the playoffs as the Gators (14-5) stormed into the state semifinals for the fourth time in eight years by beating the host Wolverines (14-5) in the 4A North final.
Swiecicki struck out 12 and lowered her ERA to 1.10, as Perry Hall advanced to face either Eleanor Roosevelt or High Point.
A double from Jen Nieberlein in the sixth inning touched off an eight-run Gators surge that put the game out of reach. Center fielder Rachel Lewis paced the Perry Hall offense, driving in two runs and scoring three more.
Fort Hill 3, Howard 0: The visiting Lions (15-6) stranded seven runners in scoring position, squandering a complete-game 10-strikeout effort from Kristin Gormus in the 2A West final.
The Sentinels scored an unearned run in the fourth inning and twice more in the sixth.
No. 15 Eastern Tech 7, Catonsville 5: In their first season in the 2A North region, the Mavericks (18-5) stole the regional crown from the two-time defending champion Comets (15-6), getting a complete-game effort and seven strikeouts from pitcher Tina Birchfield.
Eastern Tech was in control for most of the afternoon, building a 6-1 lead after three innings.
Catonsville mounted a four-run rally in the bottom of the seventh that was highlighted by a two-run, two-out double from Sarah Yoh, before Birchfield got a game-ending groundout.
Staff reports contributed to this article.