For a second straight season, the Eastern Tech softball team found the same roadblock in the Class 2A state tournament.
This time, a late rally wasn’t enough for the No. 13 Mavericks, who surrendered a five-run fourth inning to defending champion La Plata in a 6-3 loss in the state semifinals Tuesday at Bachman Sports Complex in Glen Burnie.
The Mavericks (16-3) had a 13-game win streak halted. The Warriors (18-4) from Charles County, who beat them 3-2 in last year’s title game, advance to Saturday’s championship game.
For a second straight year, La Plata pitcher Ava Krahling had the answers to end the Mavericks season.
She kept the Mavericks bats quiet threw five innings, while the Warriors put together a five-hit, five-run fourth inning for a 6-0 lead. Sydney Bales’ two-run home run over the fence in center was the highlight.
The Mavericks scored three in the sixth – Kristin Toland and Abigail Heagy producing run-scoring singles – but it wasn’t enough.
After cutting the Mavericks cut the lead to 6-3, Krahling got them in order in the seventh. She allowed four hits in the sixth inning and only one more in the other six with eight strikeouts.
“We faced this pitcher the last couple times we’ve played them, so we just tried to figure it out and we showed a lot of heart,” Eastern Tech coach Jack Meyers said.
“That kind of pitcher you don’t see in [Baltimore] county, but that’s Ok and it’s no excuse. They have a great team over there – lights out. We put the ball in play and we were happy with the rally late in the game, but just came up short.”
The Mavericks lost back-to-back county games early in the season, which prompted Meyers to have a chat with his six seniors. The message was this was their team and their last year, so figure things out.
They responded impressively with the 13 straight wins and the program’s 12th state tournament appearance.
“It was kind of funny because after the loss to Dulaney, coach Jack brought us all in and said this is our last season and you’ve got to get the young ones in,” said senior shortstop Savannah Bucalo, who went 2-for-2 with a walk and one run scored.
“We all kind of connected better after that and we just got a lot better, started flowing and everything was just roll, roll, roll. We just kept going with it.”
Bucalo said a quicker start offensively on Tuesday could have made for a different result, but she was quick to credit La Plata, too.
“La Plata did amazing,” she said. “They are a good team like we’re a good team and it was an amazing game all around – everything mattered in this game. They deserved it.”