Games at University of Maryland
No. 6 Atholton (17-5) vs. Northern (Calvert) (15-7)
Time -- 11 a.m.
Outlook -- The Raiders are com ing off a four-win season in 2007, so they are simply enjoying the unex pected ride. The team's relaxed play was evident in Wednesday's 8-1 win over No. 4 and previously undefeated Franklin. Sophomore pitcher Chelsea Ponce and her older sister, senior 2B A.J. Ponce, transfers from California, have been difference-making addi tions. Chelsea is 9-2 on the mound and batting .470 with 20 RBIs, and A.J., the team's leadoff hitter, is bat ting .375 with 23 runs scored. The Raiders also brought in a talented class of freshmen led by CF Erica Ma kar and P-1B Haylie Goheen. While Atholton will be playing in its fourth state championship game, still in search of its first title, Northern is loaded with tradition and will be after its fifth crown. The Patriots have played one of the state's tough est schedules and boast wins against No. 3 Broadneck and defending champ Huntingtown in the regional semifinals. Freshman P Kaitlyn Schmeiser took a 10-5 record into the team's state semifinal win against Damascus, and junior C Kristin Schalk and junior CF Chelsea Stern are batting over .400 for the season.
The Sun's pick -- Northern.
No. 2 Chesapeake-AA (23-2) vs. Sherwood (18-2)
Time -- 6:30 p.m.
Outlook -- The defending champi on Cougars bring a wealth of big-game experience, making their 10th championship game with six titles al ready in the books. Sherwood, from Montgomery County, is the exact op posite, as the team makes its first trip to the final game. The Warriors will be no push-over, however. The teams met in last year's state semifinal, where the Cougars escaped with a tight 3-2 win. Chesapeake junior P Lauren Gibson, last year's All-Metro Player of the Year, leads a balanced Cougars' lineup that hits for power, executes bunts and also plays sound defense. Junior 2B Kelly Hickman has been a catalyst at the plate in the playoffs, hitting a two-run homer in a 3-0 region semifinal win over Arun del, following that with a three-run shot in a 10-6 win over Broadneck. For Sherwood, can last season's strong showing against Chesapeake put it over the top this year? The War riors rely on junior LHP Erin McMa kin on the mound and at the plate. She is 18-2 this season and was one of three players to have 23 or more RBIs for the team.
The Sun's pick -- Chesapeake-AA.