Struggling to generate any sort of offensive flow, Eastern Tech softball coach Jack Meyers paced the dugout with optimism, telling his girls to grind away. It was the end of the fourth inning, and the Mavericks trailed the top-ranked team in the area, Dulaney, by one, with a pair of errors yielding both of the Lions’ runs.
Sure enough, the complexity of Wednesday evening’s showdown between the top two teams in the Baltimore area swayed, and behind a defensive stand in the bottom of the fourth and a four-run outburst in the top of the fifth, No. 2 Eastern Tech outdueled No. 1 Dulaney at home, 5-2.
The win secures Eastern Tech a spot in the Baltimore County championship game.
“We tell the kids, show no fear,” Meyers said. “Be strong when you make an error and move on. We kept telling them to be disciplined, look for a pitch, your pitch. And they came through.”
Two days after throwing a perfect game in a 13-0 win against Loch Raven on Monday, Jodie Bronushas carried over the dominance by stifling a potent Dulaney lineup with her hallmark screwball. She scattered three hits over seven innings, and both of her runs were unearned.
After Casey Turner (2-for-2, one RBI) completed a dazzling, two-run-saving double-play at shortstop — snagging a line-drive rocket over her head, then getting the putout at third base to conclude the fourth inning – Bronushas ripped a two-RBI double to straightaway centerfield in the team's next time up to give Eastern Tech (13-1) a lead it wouldn’t relinquish, 3-2.
Bronushas finished the day 2-for-3 at the plate and added four strikeouts in the circle. She also only allowed one walk.
“It’s composure,” Meyers said of Bronushas. “She’s been through different teams the past three years. She has a young team behind her. She puts a lot of things on her shoulders. She’s the heart and soul of our team.”
As Bronushas put it, when the tide turns, they “can’t stop,” and three pitches later, in the next at-bat, Natalie Bates cranked a two-run home run over the centerfield fence to swell the lead to 5-2.
“It all started with Casey and Jodie, the rally,” Bates said. “It was just a big rally, and it kept going.”
From there, the final two innings, Dulaney only mustered one hit, and never put a runner in scoring position for a comeback bid.
Dulaney (13-2) pitcher Akirra Pullen struck out two and allowed seven hits, two walks and four earned runs over six innings. Pullen and Jenna Isaacson provided the only two RBI for Dulaney. The Lions, usually a stout defensive bunch, committed three errors and couldn’t smother Eastern Tech hits through the gaps.
“What happened is, we’re in the game, we’re playing OK, we’re making some good plays, and the balls our shortstop and third base won’t let go through the hole got through the hole today,” Dulaney coach Dave Barwick said. “Usually, they’ll gobble them up. Our centerfielder runs everything down. She ran it down, put the glove up, and didn’t catch it. Akirra threw a few fat pitches in [the fifth] inning and [Eastern Tech] took advantage of it.
“We don’t play this game with this kind of competition very often. I’m not unhappy with the way we played. We played OK ball. Just some plays that we normally would make, because that’s a quality team, though, we didn’t make today. That’s how I feel about today.”
Dulaney and Eastern Tech have quick turnarounds, with the Lions hosting Loch Raven and the Mavericks, looking to keep the momentum ablaze, hosting Kenwood, both on Thursday evening.
“The thing about these kids, they're having fun together” Meyers said.