COLLEGE PARK — Pitcher Madison Knight has been the engine that makes Patterson Mill softball go all year. On Saturday, she ran into an engine that was a little bit more finely tuned.
Sophomore Abi Britton struck out 11 and allowed just four hits in a complete game to lead Allegany of Cumberland over the defending champion Huskies, 3-2, in the Class 1A state final Saturday at the University of Maryland Softball Stadium.
The loss snaps Patterson Mill’s 44-game winning streak and ends its season one win short of its ultimate goal.
“I didn’t have my best stuff today,” said Knight, who nonetheless pitched a complete game, allowing seven hits and striking out nine. “We gave it our best shot and fought to the end, and we came up a little short.”
The loss also ends Knight’s illustrious high school career. Last year’s Gatorade Maryland Softball Player of the Year, she will attend Syracuse and play softball next year.
The Huskies (21-1) took the lead in the bottom of the first inning. Mackenzie Knight earned a leadoff walk, and after stealing second and going to third on an errant pickoff throw, she scored on a passed ball on a walk by Lily Hofmeister.
The Campers (18-0) tried to manufacture a run of their own in the bottom of the second. Ava Strother walked to start the inning. With one out, Kylie Hook singled to right field. Huskies freshman outfielder Audrey March came up throwing, firing a strike to junior second baseman Kelsey Price. She then relayed the ball to catcher Izzy Heibler, who tagged out Strother trying to score.
Allegany managed to tie the game in the third. After working a walk, Riley Gallagher stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. A deep flyout by Britton allowed Gallagher to score to tie the game at 1.
The Campers took the lead in the top of the fifth. After a strikeout to begin the inning, Knight gave up singles to both Gallagher and Britton. Huskies coach Jeff Horton intentionally walked Alexa Uphold to load the bases. A fly ball to right field allowed Gallagher to score, and a single by Strother drove in another run to give the Campers a 3-1 lead.
Patterson Mill began to claw back in the bottom of the sixth. After a walk by Madison Knight, Tara Caprinolo doubled to push Knight to third. Knight scored on an infield groundout on the next at-bat by Ali Kirsch to cut the lead to 3-2.
The Huskies looked as if they might pull out the victory in the seventh. The inning began with an infield single by March, and she was pushed to second when pop-up bunt by Ella Laurentius was dropped by Britton. A bunt by Kelsey Price resulted in the first out, but it advanced March and pinch-runner Lexi Gresko to second and third, respectively. Mackenzie Knight was called out on strikes by the first base umpire on a check-swing, and Britton ended the game by striking out Savannah Reedy to give the Campers the title.
“I was hoping for the best [in the seventh inning],” Madison Knight said. “We had runners in scoring position, but we couldn’t get them home. You have to tip your hat to them for that.”
Britton said that the Campers respected Patterson Mill, and that the game “got a little scary at times.”
“[Madison] is a friend of mine, so I know what that team is capable of. As a hitter, I know how intimidating it is to face her,” Britton said of Knight. “I knew I had to be sharp if we were going to beat them. I knew I couldn’t make many mistakes. I was very nervous in the bottom of the seventh, but we got it done.”
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Britton and Gallagher; Madison Knight and Heibler. 2B: - Hofmeister, Caprinolo.