Sparrows Point holds off Lackey for 1A state softball finals spot; Bohemia Manor, Chesapeake-Anne Arundel and Glen Burnie punch ticket to Championship Saturday; Bel Air and Eastern Tech fall short (VIDEO HERE!)
by Derek Toney
Glen Burnie High softball wasn’t considered a championship contender going into the 2019 season. Now, the Gophers are a win away from a state title.
No. 4 Glen Burnie defeated Montgomery County’s Walt Whitman, 3-1, in a Class 4A state semifinal at Bachman Park Tuesday evening in Anne Arundel County. The Gophers, No. 1 Bohemia Manor, Chesapeake-Anne Arundel and Sparrows Point are on the championship threshold.
Defending 1A state champ Bohemia Manor defeated Frederick County’s Brunswick, 4-2, for a title date with Sparrows Point. The Pointers held off Charles County’s LaPlata in the other semifinal.
Chesapeake-Anne Arundel eliminated Linganore from Frederick County, 5-0, to advance to the 3A final. The second-ranked Cougars will play defending champ Huntingtown, Saturday afternoon at 5 at the University of Maryland’s softball complex.
Huntingtown ended No. 6 Bel Air’s season, 10-2, in the other 3A state Final Four contest. No. 5 Eastern Tech’s title bid was ended by Charles County’s LaPlata, 6-3, in the 2A semifinals.
The Baltimore County school made a late rally before falling for the second straight year to the Warriors. LaPlata defeated the Mavericks, 3-2, in last year’s title game at Maryland.
The Warriors plated five runs in the fourth inning for a 6-0 advantage. The Mavericks got RBI singles from Kristin Toland and Abby Heagy, part of a three-run fifth inning.
Eastern Tech got no closer, ending its season at 16-3. Senior shortstop Savannah Bucalo had two hits for the Mavericks, and Emma Tawney and Miranda Burton singled.
LaPlata will play Queen Anne’s County for the state title, Saturday at noon in College Park.
On the verge of suffering a mercy-rule defeat, Bel Air showed some tenacity against Southern Maryland’s powerhouse Huntingtown. The Hurricanes scored five runs in the first and four in the home fourth for a 10-0 lead.
After striking out 11 times in its first 12 at-bats against Huntington pitcher Victoria Fletcher, the Bobcats got a two-out RBI single from senior Arianna Dramis in the fifth to continue the game. The Harford County squad scored again in the seventh.
Peyton Hale doubled for Bel Air (12-6), playing in its first state semifinal since 1994. Lindsay Martino and Emma Sanza each singled.
With seven underclassmen (two freshmen) in the starting nine Tuesday, first-year Bobcat coach Nicole Cosgrove is excited about the future.
“I think the nerves got the best of us for the first few innings, but we kept fighting,” said Cosgrove. “We made it through seven.”
After winning its first Baltimore County championship last season, Sparrows Point stumbled through the regular season. The postseason, however, has been a different story as the Pointers advanced to their second state final.
Senior third baseman Megan Hamp’s two-run blast in the sixth, put Sparrows Point (11-10) ahead for good. Sophomore left fielder Rachel Blankenship added a two-run round-tripper in the seventh.
Lackey scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh and had the tying run at third, but sophomore pitcher Karen Fritzges induced a game-ending pop out. Hamp had two hits for Sparrows Point, and Samantha Gamble and Sarah Jensen each singled.
The Pointers have rebounded in a big way after ending the season with four straight losses. Sparrows Point won its first league title in 2018, but was routed by Catoctin, 12-2, in the 1A state semis.
“When we came here last year, no one wanted to play, every one was done…we lost before we got off the bus,” said Hamp. “This year, everyone wanted to play.”
“They didn’t give up. They’ve getting better all season,” said Pointers coach Duke Vickery. “We didn’t have a real good regular season and made a lot of errors, but they’ve gotten it together.”
Maddie Penta was far from dominant Tuesday, but Bohemia Manor is on a cusp of a three-peat. Alexis Bolton had two RBI and junior third basemen Carlee Ferguson drove in a run.
Penta, the two-time reigning VSN Pitcher of the Year, allowed her first runs of the season as Abigayle Perry’s blooped a two-run single to left. It was the first earned run allowed by the Auburn University commit since last year’s state title game.
Penta retired the seven batters to improve to 20-0 on the season.
“It wasn’t my best outing but I feel after I gave up those two runs, I was able to bear down and really focused on the basics,” said Penta.
“She’s played at the highest level in the country. It’s something for new her giving up runs,” said Eagles coach Ed Abshagen. “You saw what happened, she got the last six outs.”
Bohemia Manor (21-1), which won the UCBAC Chesapeake crown this spring, will try to become the first team to win three straight 1A titles.
Anne Arundel County champ Chesapeake got two RBI singles from Charli Smith and senior rightfielder Kexin Wang homered to punch a spot in Saturday’s 3A final against Huntingtown.
“We’re a young ball club and they pulled it together,” said Chesapeake coach Don Ellenberger. “We put a string together and it’s getting them to the show, so from that aspect, I’m just happy as heck.”
Wilmington University-bound Haley Downin struck out eight and scattered six hits. She got all the support she would need in the second on Thomas’ RBI single.
Downin, a four-year starter, is excited about finally getting to play for a state championship with a relatively young squad.
“Coming in, having five freshmen on varsity, we didn’t know how we would be, but them stepping up and them playing travel ball, especially over the summer, really helped coming in because they contributed a lot more,” said Downin. “I think they look up to all of us seniors, trying to do the best they can, even for them.”
Wynter is coming along with Glen Burnie to Championship Saturday for the first time since 2013.
Sophomore Wynter Radcliffe hit a two-run homer and struck out 13 for the Gophers (19-2), who will play Montgomery County’s Sherwood in the final game of Championship Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in College Park.
Glen Burnie trailed 1-0 as Samantha Taves sent Radcliffe’s offering high over the left field net fence in the fourth. Radcliffe answered in the home half, following Shianne Turner’s single with a home run.
Radcliffe brought home Turner with a RBI single in the fifth.
The Gophers weren’t considered a favorite in Anne Arundel with Severna Park coming off a 4A state title last spring and perennial stronghold Chesapeake-Anne Arundel.
“We’ve always been viewed as the dark horse and Glen Burnie is viewed as the one who don’t make it,” said Radcliffe. “Now that we are, we’re unstoppable.”
“We like being the dark horse,” said Gophers coach Dave Sauble. “We beat Severna Park twice and that’s what got us here.”
MPSSAA SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT
State semfinals at Bachman Park
Bohemia Manor 4, Brunswick 2
Sparrows Point 5, Lackey 4
LaPlata 6, Eastern Tech 3
Queen Anne’s 9, Middletown 0
Chesapeake-Anne Arundel 5, Linganore 0
Huntingtown 10, Bel Air 2
Glen Burnie 3, Walt Whitman 1
Sherwood 3, Bowie 1
State finals at University of Maryland
CLASS 2A final – Queen Anne’s vs. LaPlata, 12 p.m.
CLASS 1A final – Sparrows Point vs. Bohemia Manor, 2:30 p.m.
CLASS 3A final – Chesapeake-Anne Arundel vs. Huntingtown, 5 p.m.
CLASS 4A final – Sherwood vs. Glen Burnie, 7:30 p.m.