When the ball left her bat and headed for right field, Taylor Brown put her head down and sprinted toward first base. Manchester Valley was trailing Liberty by three runs in the sixth inning of the Carroll County Athletic League softball championship game, and with runners on first and second and two outs, Brown was hoping to move the runners up a base and maybe cut into the lead a little bit.

But as the Mavericks left fielder reached first base, she heard the screams from her coaches and teammates to keep going. She had no idea where the ball was — it had hopped past Liberty's Taylor Fowlkes — but around the bases she went, sprinting toward home to tie the game without a throw.

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In the inaugural CCAL softball title game, Brown's big hit set the stage for Manchester Valley's 5-4 walk-off victory in the eighth inning over four-time defending county champion Liberty for the Mavericks' first county title Monday. Manchester Valley center fielder Storm Smith scored the winning run with no outs in the eighth after an infield single by catcher Kayla Geho and a throwing error.

"It's actually one of the better games you can play," Brown said. "It really got my adrenaline pumping, the back-and-forth game, only one run up kind of game. It really gets you into the game and focused. It can go either way, and that's what the whole fun part is. You just don't know and you're ready to go."

Junior pitcher Rachel Heron helped navigate Manchester Valley, the two-time defending Class 1A state champions, through the matchup. Liberty posted four runs on seven hits off Heron, but she got timely outs when she needed them, especially in the top of the eighth when Liberty had the go-ahead run on third base.

Though she had only one 1-2-3 inning, Heron relied on her defense — she got a 4-6-3 double play with runners on first and third in the second inning — to help her get through a lineup that posted Liberty senior infielder Lexi Jones and senior center fielder Kasey Bost, who entered the afternoon batting .538 and .449, respectively.

Girls lacrosse

Manchester Valley 13, Century 10: The Mavericks never trailed as they defeated Century at North Carroll's Powelson Field in the Carroll County Athletic League championship game.

Lizzie Colson scored six goals and Rayna Deltuva added two goals and two assists for the Mavericks. Junior goalie Kate Brewster had nine saves.

"I'm really excited for my girls," Mavs coach Shelly Brezicki said. "They work extremely hard each day in practice to push themselves. A lot of coaches would say when you get to a certain point, how do you step up and play harder? They find a way to do that every day."

The Mavs (14-1) got off to a good start with three straight goals before Julia Hatmaker got Century on the board with 19 minutes, seven seconds left in the first half.

notched her sixth marker on an unassisted breakaway with 16:43 to go.

Megan Woodward,

Baltimore Sun Media Group

Boys lacrosse

Liberty 17, South Carroll 8: Led by faceoff specialist Jason Stead, the Lions built a 10-goal lead by halftime and cruised to a win in the county championship game. It was their first county title since 2000 and their first outright crown since 1985.

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"It's great knowing that I started it," said Stead, who won the first 11 faceoffs and went 13-for-14 in the first half. "The ball starts where I am, but it's a team effort. It's not all me."

That translated to the Lions (15-0) scoring the first 10 goals, outscoring the Cavaliers 7-0 in the first quarter.

Senior attack Jack Boyer tallied a game-high 10 points on seven goals and three assists. Senior midfielder Nate Lamb added three goals and an assist, senior attack Jared Cirulli dished out three assists with a goal, and junior attack Mark Conway had two of each.

Jake Rill,

Baltimore Sun Media Group

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