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Severna Park softball avenges 2019 playoff defeat with 11-10 victory over Glen Burnie

Thoughts of when Glen Burnie defeated Severna Park in the Class 4A East semifinal in 2019 roiled at the front of the older Falcons’ minds in practice before Wednesday’s game.

It propelled them as they answered rally after rally by the Gophers to win, 11-10. The victory served as an important jolt of confidence as the Falcons rebounded from Friday’s rain-drenched loss to Chesapeake and into a tough three-game stretch ahead.

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“What’s really cool is their energy this year is just insane, and we’re only in Game 2,” Severna Park coach Meredith McAlister said. “It was the same against Chesapeake on Friday, and that’ll get you a lot. You go down a little bit, you can rally back.”

Sally Trent had no such memories of the 2019 playoffs as one member of a strong freshman class that appeared on Severna Park’s field. That didn’t stop her from raking. The catcher went 4-for-4, belting a home run, a double and three RBIs to lead the squad.

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Another freshman, Christina Ballagh, tossed just four innings against Chesapeake in the previous game before her stamina waned. So, McAlister gave her a weekend assignment: just focus on getting through the fifth inning.

Ballagh did that and more, pitching a complete seven innings with six strikeouts and 16 hits allowed. Part of that success drew from the fast partnership between her and Trent.

“Sally’s a very experienced catcher, even though she’s only a freshman,” McAlister said. “It’s nice having her back there, working with Christina, because I can look at [Trent] and say ‘this batter has this flaw’ and she can call time and walk out and talk to Christina.”

The Falcons jumped on Glen Burnie senior Wynter Radcliffe’s pitching and took advantage of several errors. A mishandled throw kept Falcons junior Victoria Dorn on base, a tidy set-up for Trent to double and drive in her the first run. Trent’s subsequent speed paid off, as Livi Driver batted her in, too.

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However, Severna Park’s 2-0 advantage would not last long in this offensive onslaught.

Senior Rosemarie Weidenhoft led a more self-assured group of Gophers in the top of the second. Her double heralded a series of Glen Burnie hits that very quickly turned into a run. Glen Burnie tied the score and then raced past Severna Park as senior Chelsea Coleman’s RBI knock gave the home team a 3-2 lead and senior Holly Soto’s RBI doubled the gap.

The Falcons nearly stopped the bleeding but what could’ve been a timely out was overthrown. Senior Lillian Cook touched first safely, and two more Glen Burnie runners came home to make it 6-2.

Though Severna Park returned to the batter’s box suddenly down by four runs in the bottom of the second, there were other ways of pecking at a pitcher’s performance.

The first four Falcons hitters that came up to the plate in the second got pieces of as many Radcliffe pitches as they could, increasing her pitch count.

Dorn did the same, until she hooked a pitch to deep center for an RBI. Radcliffe prevented the Falcons from chipping any more of her Gophers’ lead away, tossing her third and fourth strikeouts, but Severna Park wasn’t done yet. In the third inning, defensive mistakes that bogged Glen Burnie down in the first bubbled up again.

Peyton Sullivan could’ve just walked to first and loaded the bases, but instead, that fourth ball escaped to the backstop, allowing Severna Park to steal a run and cut the deficit to two. The next two runs came immediately after yet another two Gophers fielding mistakes, tying the score just before Savannah Drummond and Sarah Smith took advantage of more errors to give the Falcons a 7-6 lead.

“I saw a lot of resilience from everybody and high energy throughout the game,” Trent said.

Afterwards, coach Dave Sauble impressed upon his Gophers that the fielding mistakes ruined their chances of victory.

“They beat themselves. That carnival act in the outfield didn’t happen, and you can take five runs off of that scoreboard,” Sauble said. “That’s a rec-ball mentality.”

Severna Park celebrate a first inning strikeout by pitcher Christina Ballagh against Glen Burnie on Wednesday.
Severna Park celebrate a first inning strikeout by pitcher Christina Ballagh against Glen Burnie on Wednesday. (Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette)

The next three outs would be essential to make or break Glen Burnie, and it didn’t waste the opportunity. Rylee Gardner drove in the tying and go-ahead run and Alexys Gardner’s RBI hit put the Gophers in front by two.

That’s when Trent clubbed a solo home run over the center field wall and the game — again — was tied, this time at nine. Errors continued to riddle Glen Burnie, allowing the Falcons to pad their score in the fifth.

“This will give us a big confidence jump,” Trent said, “but I think we were great coming into today, too.”

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