Chesapeake-Anne Arundel second baseman Kelly Hickman has found her home run swing, and it couldn't have come at a better time.
In yesterday's Class 4A East regional title game against second-ranked Broadneck, the junior smashed a three-run homer over the fence in left field, highlighting a five-run third inning that sent the No. 3 Cougars to a 10-6 win over their county rivals.
For the second year in a row, the defending state champ Cougars (22-2) lost to the Bruins in the regular season and the Anne Arundel County championship game before winning when it counted the most. They will play in the state semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Bachman Sport Complex.
All of last year's games were tight. That wasn't the case yesterday, with Hickman having an important say when the Bruins led 2-1 going into the bottom of the third inning. With one out and runners on first and second, Hickman smashed the first pitch from sophomore All-Metro pitcher Kourtney Salvarola.
"Kourtney doesn't give me a lot of strikes and I just took advantage of it," said Hickman, who also hit a two-run homer in Thursday's 3-0 semifinal win against Arundel. "It feels great. The first playoff game, I didn't do well and I was like, 'Oh God, I'm losing it.' But I just kept my head and it feels really good."
First baseman Amanda Montgomery (2-for-3, three RBIs) hit a two-run single in a four-run fourth inning to give the Cougars a 10-2 lead before Broadneck's Corie Seitler hit a grand slam in the seventh inning. Salvarola, who hit two homers in the Bruins' 4-2 win for the county championship, was intentionally walked four times and scored two runs.
Class 2A South
McDonough 2, No. 6 Hammond 0 -- Junior pitcher Melanie Mitchell hit a two-run homer and struck out 17 as visiting McDonough upset the defending state champion Golden Bears (18-4). Mitchell's third-inning blast over the left-field fence was the only hit given up by Hammond junior pitcher Stephanie Speierman.
Class 2A West
Century 2, Francis Scott Key 1 -- Anna Struhar hit a run-scoring triple and then scored on Brooke Stambaugh's single in the sixth inning, leading the Knights (16-7) to their third straight regional title. Century will meet McDonough in the state semifinals at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Bachman Sports Complex.