After a promising start, C. Milton Wright High’s softball team stumbled in the early part of the spring. The Mustangs have recovered and a state title is now within reach.
No. 8 C. Milton Wright defeated 12th-ranked Northeast, 5-2, in a Class 3A state semifinal Tuesday evening at Bachman Park in Glen Burnie. No. 4 Bohemia Manor and South Carroll each gained title game berths while Arundel and Eastern Tech came up short.
The sixth-ranked Wildcats dropped a 12-0 decision to Montgomery County’s Sherwood in a 4A final four match. Hannah St. Laurent drove in three runs for Sherwood (19-1 overall).
Playing in its first state semifinal since 1983, Arundel was no match for the state’s top public program. The Olney school, winners in 122 of its last 123 decisions, will try for a sixth consecutive 4A championship Saturday afternoon at the University of Maryland against Montgomery County rival Northwest, which snapped Sherwood’s 105-game winning streak in late March.
The Wildcats only managed a two-out double from Caroline Mills in the fourth. Maddie Miller followed with a single, but Mills was thrown out at home to end the threat.
After winning 12 games last spring, the Gambrills school won 20 (20-4 final record) this spring. The Wildcats defeated Anne Arundel County champ Chesapeake and 3A state finalist Northeast during the season.
“This has been our best season so far as for team chemistry,” said Arundel fourth-year coach Lisa Mills, who graduates Steffany German, Tiffany German, Kaelyn Lavin and Faith Cheatham from the starting roster. “…We had several walk-off wins, we had several come from behind wins. They have a lot of fight in them.”
Top-ranked Eastern Tech rallied early from an early deficit, but North Caroline scored in the bottom of the seventh for a 3-2 victory to advance to the Class 2A final. Ali Ward scored on Megan Rollins’ fly out for the winning score.
Ward doubled off Mavericks pitcher Jodie Bronushas with one out and advanced to third on a passed ball. Robbins lofted a ball that was caught in left and Ward scooted home, ending Eastern Tech’s season at Bachman for the second straight spring.
Down 1-0 in the fifth, Eastern Tech (19-2) got an RBI singles from Natalie Bates and Amaya Chmielewski to take the lead. North Caroline tied it the bottom half as Robbins homered with one out.
Robbins drove in all three runs for North Caroline (23-0), and finished with two hits. Kendall Dixon and Kendall Mast also had two hits.
Miranda Burton and Bates each finished with two hits for Eastern Tech, which won its seventh straight Baltimore County title and reached the state semifinals for the sixth time in eight seasons. The Mavericks missed several scoring opportunities (left eight runners on base) Tuesday including a bases loaded, one out situation in the fourth.
“This is a young team and the first time a lot has played at this level,” said Eastern Tech coach Jack Meyers, who had only Bronushas and second basemen Hannah Pfarr as senior starters. “Every little detail is crucial.”
South Carroll is on the verge of history after knocking off Southern, 2-0, in the other 2A contest. Morgan Adler and Sam Amateau each drove in runs in the fifth.
That was more than enough for junior Chloe Sharman, who pitched a complete game five-hitter. The Cavaliers (18-5) finished with nine hits, seven coming from the bottom third of their lineup in Alder, senior third basemen Katlyn Davis and junior first baseman Victoria Holston.
It’s the first state final for the Carroll County school, which won 17 games last spring. The Cavaliers won the Carroll league crown for the first time in 35 years.
“I don’t think we saw it coming,” said Adler, one of six senior starters, “but we definitely loved when it happened.”
The Cavaliers will try to claim their first state title Friday night against undefeated North Caroline at the University of Maryland. South Carroll will look to continue Carroll County’s title streak after Westminster won the 3A title last spring and Manchester Valley went back-to-back in 1A in 2015 and 2014.
“They set a goal at the beginning season and have stuck to it and working towards it,” said South Carroll coach Matt Cannistraci. “We’ve reached the goal, now we have to obtain the goal.”
The Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference, arguably the area’s toughest league, has a chance at two crowns, thanks to Bohemia Manor and C. Milton Wright. Bohemia Manor defeated Mardela, 5-0, in a 1A state semifinal.
The Eagles (20-2) broke open a tight game in the sixth and Maddie Penta continued her dominant freshman campaign, putting the Cecil County school in its first state title game since 2001. Bohemia Manor will play Allegany, Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the University of Maryland. Allegany routed Pikesville, 27-0, in the other 1A state semifinal match, played Monday at Thomas Johnson.
Last year, Bohemia Manor lost to eventual state champ Perryville in the East Region semifinals. The Eagles ended Perryville’s reign in the East semifinals (8-0) last week.
“The team chemistry has improved a lot. We have multiple leaders and everybody respects each other,” said Bohemia Manor catcher Megan Horsey. “I think we have a really well-oiled machine.”
After being stymied by Mardela’s Kalie Adkins, Bohemia Manor’s machine went on a rage in the sixth. Horsey’s two-out double scored Anna Tidaback. Rachel Jones brought home Horsey and Justine Borneman with a two-run single.
It was more than adequate for Penta, who retired the first 18 batters before walking Sydney Guertren to lead off the seventh. Kalie Adkins singled with one out, but Penta retired the next two hitters.
Penta, who already has a verbal scholarship offer from Texas A&M, struck out 16 Wednesday, and hasn’t allowed a run this postseason.
After a mistake-filled loss in last year’s state semifinals, C. Milton Wright made all right plays Tuesday evening against Northeast.
Lauren Meyers, Skylar Little and Cassidy Cochran each drove in a run for C. Milton Wright, and Katie Murphy finished with a RBI and allowed six hits on the mound. Northeast got a RBI each from Chesley Manasala and Veronica Hampton.
The Mustangs (17-7) broke open a close match in the fifth before escaping a bases loaded no out jam in the seventh, advancing to its first state final since 2015. C. Milton Wright will play southern Maryland’s Huntingtown for the 3A championship, Saturday afternoon at the University of Maryland.
Huntingtown defeated C. Milton Wright in last year’s state semifinals.
“We were a very strong defensive team and we had a bad defensive game. This time it could be more opposite,” said C. Milton Wright coach Russ Kovacs. “We made some amazing defensive plays.”
Arguably the biggest came in the fifth with C. Milton Wright leading 2-0. Jillian Petee made a diving catch in the left, robbing Manasala, whose shot brought home a run.
Leading 3-2 in the seventh, C. Milton Wright got clutch hits from Little and Meyers for 5-2 advantage, but Northeast (18-7) loaded the bases with no outs. Emily Kim, in relief of Murphy, struck out two batters before getting Maria Weedle to ground out to Murphy to end it.
In the North Region final last week, the Mustangs escaped a bases loaded jam in the seventh to win at Lansdowne.
The Mustangs broke open a defensive struggle in the fourth on Murphy’s sacrifice fly and Cochran’s RBI double. After Petee’s catch in the bottom of fifth helped maintained the lead, C. Milton Wright added a run in the top of the sixth off a fielder’s choice.
A Northeast two-out error in the seventh helped the Mustangs get two insurance runs. The Anne Arundel County school nearly dugged out the hole, but wasn’t able to convert in its final at-bat.
“They didn’t lay down,” said Northeast coach Joe Hart, whose team lost to eventual state champ Westminster in last year’s 3A semifinals. “They battled back. This is a good team.”
C. Milton Wright started the season with victories over Westminster along with then-reigining IAAM A champ Archbishop Spalding and runner-up Mount de Sales Academy, ascending it to No. 1 in VSN’s Top 20. The Bel Air school dropped six of its next eight decisions.
The Mustangs have won 12 of 13 (lost to No. 1 Eastern Tech) since. Now, they’re a win away from their first state title since 2006.
“When things went downhill, we started to doubt ourselves but realized we have an entire year,” said Kim, a junior. “We’re starting to peak when it matters and we continue to out-do oursevles.”