Glenelg coach Cameron Rahnama said he scheduled a game with long-time power Archbishop Spalding as a good early-season test. But even Rahnama couldn't have imagined the grade his Gladiators would get.
Fielding problems crippled No. 4 Spalding at several points in yesterday's game at Randazzo Park. The long-time powerhouse made six errors, three in the top of the eighth inning and helping No. 11 Glenelg escape with an 8-5 victory.
Glenelg (1-0) took advantage of numerous Spalding errors and poor plays, scoring all of its runs after Cavaliers miscues. The Gladiators showed no signs of nervousness, taking advantage of mistakes for a quick 4-0 lead - and then rallying to tie the game at 5 and force extra innings.
The Gladiators made three errors, but all came in the third inning, helping Spalding (1-1) score all five of its runs. But Glenelg pitcher Ashley Fowler settled down after that and gave up just one hit in the final five innings and retired the last 15 batters she faced. In addition, several Glenelg players made four-star plays in the field to help Fowler settle into a rhythm.
"We didn't just want to be competitive," Rahnama said. "We wanted to win - and everyone contributed today."
Stephanie Sims was Glenelg's top hitter, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs and scoring one of the runs in the eighth inning. Her two-run single gave the Gladiators a 2-0 lead in the first, and she added an RBI single in the third for a 4-0 lead.
"If you can play with a team as good as Spalding and do as well as we did, it's a confidence booster," Sims said. "We were basically trying to have fun and have no fear of making mistakes."
Sims laid down a perfect sacrifice to lead off the eighth.
With a runner on second base - international rules put the batter who made the last out the previous inning on second to start the extra inning - Sims' bunt was thrown away, and Karyn Curley scored to give the Gladiators a 6-5 lead.
Diane Shaulis came up two batters later, and her swinging bunt rolled down the first-base line, where it was dropped when a tag was tried. The Gladiators loaded the bases and scored a second run on a passed ball and the third run on a throwing error. Glenelg didn't get a ball out of the infield or have an RBI but bunted beautifully - one by Liz Penniman on an 0-2 pitch - forcing the Cavaliers to make plays they couldn't.
The Cavaliers have won 12 of the past 13 Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championships, and coach Linda Taylor was left scratching her head after yesterday's game.
"I'm not quite sure what happened defensively today," Taylor said. "We had a lot of fluky things happen. I want them to remember and learn from their mistakes."