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High School sports

John Carroll softball upsets No. 7 McDonogh, 4-3, to reach the IAAM A title game: ‘Our effort was amazing’

Getting a third crack at McDonogh this season — the stakes much higher this time on Thursday — the John Carroll softball team vowed to play smartly and aggressively.

So the Patriots put the ball in play and manufactured runs with the help of some early McDonogh errors.

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And then when the host Eagles rallied, senior pitcher Brianna Botkin was able to get big outs when called on with help from her defense.

Botkin allowed five hits, one earned run and, in the bottom of the seventh with the top of the order up for the Eagles, got three straight outs to secure a 4-3 win in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference semifinal.

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John Carroll, seeded third, improves to 7-9 and will take on top-seeded and No. 3 Archbishop Spalding — a 21-1 winner over Mount de Sales — in Tuesday’s championship game at Bachman Sports Complex in Glen Burnie. Game time is set for 6 p.m.

After falling to McDonogh (12-3-1) by 4-1 and 8-5 scores in the regular- season meetings, the Patriots made sure Thursday would be their day.

“The effort was amazing,” Botkin said. “We were in it 100% and we didn’t let up. Our bats were on fire today and my defense was amazing.”

The Patriots pounded out nine hits and took advantage of six McDonogh errors in building a 4-1 lead — leadoff hitter Sydney Dawson finishing with a single, one RBI and run scored to lead the way. After the Eagles cut the lead to 4-3 in the sixth, Botkin and the Patriots defense made sure to have the final say.

In the sixth, the Eagles already got within one run and had two runners on when Botkin got Nialah Muhammad to ground sharply to second baseman Kallissa Coats. In the seventh, McDonogh leadoff batter Harper Allee Press, who had reached all three previous at-bats and scored twice, grounded sharply to third baseman Sam Sclafani for the big first out. Center fielder Mykaela Getz made a fine running catch on Abby Nevin’s liner and then Botkin got McDonogh pitcher Andrea Ottomano to ground out to second to close out the win.

“McDonogh is a great hitting team, so [Botkin] did an awesome job pitching and hitting her spots. The top of their lineup is tough and our defense also stepped up and made some really good plays,” John Carroll coach Sherry Hudson said.

Botkin was proud of how the team responded in the clutch moments.

“If we make a mistake, we don’t let it get to us. So there were a lot of situations when they had runners on, but we kept our cool and were able to get the outs,” she said. “I’m taking breaths every pitch, go back and reset and attack the batter.”

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On offense, the Patriots made contact, were aggressive on the bases and good things happened early in the game.

in the top of the first, Dawson reached on an infield error, stole second base and scored on a throwing error when Getz put down a sacrifice bunt for a 1-0 lead.

The Patriots made it 2-0 when Botkin singled up the middle with one out and scored on a misplayed pop in the outfield. After Nevin’s run-scoring single in the bottom of the third cut the lead to 2-1, the Patriots made it 4-1 in the next frame on two singles and two more McDonogh errors.

Botkin, who was a freshman when the Patriots last made the championship game, is looking forward to another chance at a championship. The Patriots lost the title game to Spalding, which also beat them twice in the regular season.

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“I was in the championship freshman year, so being back is amazing. We got to be aggressive at the plate,” Botkin said.

With a mix of seniors and inexperienced players, the Eagles got plenty of mileage from their season, despite the tough game on Thursday. Ottomano did well to pitch through jams to keep the Eagles close. Nevin finished with a single, double and RBI in the loss.

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“We made too many errors and it cost us,” said McDonogh coach John Folfas. “Give them credit -- they put the ball in play. and their pitcher, Bri, pitched a great game. She threw the ball hard and we just couldn’t get going until the end there.”

JC 1 0 1 2 0 0 0 -- 4 9 3

M 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 -- 3 5 6

Botkin and Pindell; Ottomano and Cook

2B: M—Allee Press, Nevin


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