CLASS 3A STATE SOFTBALL CHAMPIONS
C. MILTON WRIGHT MUSTANGS
About 30 minutes after his squad captured the Class 3A state softball championship Saturday, C. Milton Wright High coach Russ Kovach was still trying to wrap his head around the accomplishment. He got a dose of reality in the form of a water bucket dousing from a team manager.
A decade-worth of disappointment and heartache for the No. 8 Mustangs were washed away in a 6-1 victory over southern Maryland’s Huntingtown at the University of Maryland. Michelle Cisco drove in five runs for C. Milton Wright (18-7) and Katie Murphy struck out six.
For the first time since 2006, the Mustangs are state champions. They did it, beating the team that ended their 2016 campaign in the state semifinal round at Bachman Park. Huntingtown took advantage of C. Milton Wright’s defensive miscues.
There was always a breakdown for the Mustangs in their five state final four trips since the 2006 title run. C. Milton Wright was nearly flawless Saturday.
“We fired on all cylinders, I think we had only one error,” said Kovach. “We got the defense done. We got clutch hits when we needed.”
“Everything that needed to be done was done,” said C. Milton Wright junior shortstop Emily Kim.
The Mustangs committed one error – a Murphy throw that sailed over the head of first basemen Lauren Meyers to open the seventh inning. The junior retired the next three batters to wrap up the title.
“To get the last three outs is really nerve wracking,” said Murphy, who didn’t allow a hit after the third inning. “You got to shake it off and keep going.”
The offense was all about for Cisco, the Mustangs’ No. 9 hitter. The junior third basemen doubled home Cassidy Cochran (2-for-3) and Emily Rutkowski in the fourth, breaking a 1-1 tie.
After a Rutkowski singled pinch runner Megan Thomas to second in the sixth, Cisco took Huntingtown pitcher Tori Fletcher’s first offering over the leftfield fence for a three-run homer.
“I was just hoping to hit the ball,” said Sisco, who struck out in her first at-bat. “I was feeling more confident after the second at bat.”
“It’s all or nothing with her and today, she gave it her all,” said Kim. “Without her hits, it’s still a 1-1 game.”
The Mustangs, who lost Northern of Calvert County in the 2015 final, got on the board in the opening inning. Megan Reed (2-for-4) led off with a single and Skylar Little reached on an error.
Kim pushed Reed and Little over a base with a sacrifice bunt. Reed scored on Meyers’ RBI groundout.
Huntingtown (19-4), which lost to Westminster in the 2016 state final, tied the game in the second on Loni Holliday’s RBI groundout, scoring Alexis Mann. Mann tripled off Murphy with one out.
In the third, Murphy gave up a two-out double to Kailey Cannon, but retired Perry to end the frame. Murphy, who allowed five hits, retired 13 of the last 14 batters.
After ascending to the top-ranking in VSN’s Top 20 in the first week of April, C. Milton Wright promptly dropped of five of its next seven decisions. The Bel Air school went 13-1 to close the spring.
“We’re such a young team and everybody had to settle in,” said Sisco, one of eight starting underclassmen. “We got comfortable and more confident and that’s what got us to states.”
“We hit a rough patch in the beginning of the year and got down a little bit but we picked up the intensity,” said Murphy, who went 14-6 this season. “We wanted to get back here [states].”
After the season-ending loss to Huntingtown last spring at Bachman Park, Murphy was in the dugout gathering her belongings. Morghan Fulton, the eventual VSN Pitcher of the Year and the Mustangs’ all-time winningest pitcher, walked up to her successor.
“I want you to come back here next year and win this,” Fulton said.
Three hundred and sixty-six days later: Mission accomplished.
“Morghan told us last year do this for everybody, do this for your teammates, doing it for yourself, do it for your coaches. We took that to his heart and really wanted to get back here,” said Murphy. “We did and we won the game.”
Class 3A state softball championship
at University of Maryland
No. 8 C. Milton Wright 6, Huntingtown 1
C. Milton Wright 100 200 3 – 6 8 1
Huntingtown 010 000 0 – 1 5 2
Murphy and Childress; Fletcher and
2B: C. Milton Wright – Cisco
3B: Huntingtown – Mann
HR: C. Milton Wright – Cisco