The first inning Monday afternoon between River Hill and Marriotts Ridge turned out to be an accurate snapshot of what was ahead.
In the top half of the opening frame, the Mustangs put runners on second and third with no outs before River Hill (5-0, 5-0) escaped unharmed courtesy of a couple perfectly executed rundown plays. Then in the bottom half of the inning, the Hawks scored three times on five hits to grab momentum they never lost the rest of the way.
River Hill built a double-digit lead through the first three innings on the way to a convincing 10-2 victory that keeps the team undefeated and tied for first place in the Howard County standings.
“That first inning was huge because they had a real chance to come out and score some runs and start big. But I think with having a young team, even though we are young, we have so much poise,” said senior third baseman Delanie Vintz, who had a hand in both first-inning rundown plays and went 2-4 at the plate with a home run and 4 RBI.
“Ella [Wood] on the mound as a freshman, being able to buckle down and get those big outs … once again, just a huge team effort and that was definitely the key to the game.”
As motivating as the hot start was for River Hill, it was equally deflating for Marriotts Ridge (2-2, 2-3). The defending county-champion Mustangs, who won the lone meeting between the two teams last spring by 15 runs, never established their footing after falling behind.
River Hill added five more runs in the second and two more in the third, while Marriotts Ridge stranded five runners in those opening three innings.
“We’re not coming up with the big hit when we need to and, unfortunately, we’ve been having a lot of that so far this season,” Marriotts Ridge coach Renard Parson said. “We had a chance to grab the momentum today, they killed it by shutting us down, and then they never gave us a chance to get it back. Stringing together those clutch hits is something we are still trying to figure out … I’m still confident that it will come.”
Brooke Gettier, who led off the game with a double and went 3-4 overall, spearheaded River Hill’s early offensive onslaught. Jenna Kenyon, batting in the second spot, also reached base three times (double, two walks) and scored three runs.
Vintz, Sara Emig and Ever Sheplee then all added multi-hit days for the Hawks to help break things open.
Hawks’ coach Marni Rosenbaum said she’s been thrilled with the team’s progression thus far and the production from each of the 11 players on the roster.
“This really is a team effort right now, from the players on the field to the girls who are on the bench, everyone’s contributing. Whether it’s the cheering, getting on base, making a play out in the field … it all adds up,” Rosenbaum said.
River Hill forced Marriotts Ridge to use three pitchers on the afternoon, with Madi Costigan and Megan Hughes each throwing an inning before Alex Lindahl come on in relief for the final four frames. Lindahl helped steady the ship, really “keeping them off balance with her spins” according to Parson, and allowed only the 2-run home run by Vintz during her time in the game.
Marriotts Ridge scored its lone runs in the top of the fourth inning, getting RBI hits from Sarah Fan (2-3) and Costigan (2-3, double).
Wood, River Hill’s pitcher, ended up allowing seven hits and worked around four errors.
Coming off an 8-0 loss to McDonogh over the weekend and then now falling against the Hawks, Parson stressed the importance of his Mustangs having a short memory with games against Howard and Hammond still on tap for this week.
“We had this portion of our schedule circled since November, so we knew this was going to be a huge test for us. So all we can do now is pick ourselves up and play,” Parson said. “We will make a few adjustments and see if we can get this thing turned around.”
On the other side, River Hill continues to be one of the league’s surprise squads this spring. The Hawks won just nine county games last season and yet have suddenly vaulted themselves into the county-championship discussion.
“It’s been unreal. Being on varsity as a freshman, me and Jenna, we kind of had to start over from nothing,” Vintz said. “Just being here, this is our senior year and our last ride, coming out so strong like this and beating the teams that have crushed us in past years … the feeling is insane honestly.”
River Hill (5-0, 5-0) — 10, Marriotts Ridge (2-2, 2-3) — 2
……..123 456 7 R-H-E
MR…000 200 0 2-7-1
RH…352 000 x 10-12-4
Reach Brent Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports