When its bats are booming, Dulaney High softball squad has been tough to beat this spring. And even when the hitters fare just so-so at the plate, the fourth-ranked Lions have proven they can win that way as well.
After routing Baltimore County rivals Patapsco and Lansdowne by a combined 37 runs late last week, Dulaney used a three-hitter by star right-hander Akirra Pullen — who also clubbed a team-best fourth home run this season — to turn away 10th-ranked Winters Mill, 3-1, on Monday afternoon in windy Timonium.
In addition to the thrashings of Lansdowne and Patapsco, the Lions (7-0)have also pummeled Westminster, 14-1, while their other four wins over Sparrows Point, Catonsville and Franklin have come by a a combined six runs.
Dulaney’s superb fielding, not to mention Pullen’s pitching, are reasons why close games have gone their way so far.
Coach David Barwick said its the best fielding team he has ever had. That formula again worked well against Winters Mills for the Lions, who played flawless defense behind Puller.
It helped that the Falcons (5-1) could only coax three walks off of Pullen in her route-going performance. The Dulaney infield handled 11 chances without an error.
The Lions completed an unorthodox 5-3-1 double play with a sturdy tag by freshman catcher Isabelle Modiste on sliding Winters Mill right fielder Lauren Wiley that saved a run in the third inning. They cut down Winters Mill shortstop Taylor Glover trying to stretch a leadoff double into a triple after leading off the sixth frame.
On the latter play, Winters Mill coach Felicia Knill gave Glover the green light to head toward third when her line drive into right-center field was momentarily fumbled by Akirra Pullen’s older sister, Alleshia Pullen. The Dulaney senior outfielder recovered in time to throw a strike to sophomore second baseman Jenna Isaacson, whose laser to junior third baseman Hope Eckhart nailed Glover by 15 feet and nipped a possible rally in the bud.
“I waived her on (toward third base) when I saw the outfielder drop the ball,” said Knill, who was coaching third base. “But when I saw the fielder get the ball in, I tried to stop (Glover). But (Glover) wasn’t looking at me then.”
Alleshia Pullen led off the home-half of the first inning with a long double down the left-field line and advanced to third on sophomore shortstop Allison Dasch’s sacrifice bunt.
Puller scored the first run after Falcons pitched Lily Carr snagged junior left fielder Sara Comaromi’s liner and threw over the third baseman’s head while trying to end the inning with a double play. Akirra Pullen crushed an 0-1 fastball from Carr well over the fence in left-center field to double the Lions’ advantage in the second to give her 12 RBIs this season.
Sophomore pinchitter Shannon Musolf’s double to right plated Isaacson in the fourth to give the Lions a 3-0 lead before Winters Mill had a hit. However, Glover opened the fifth with a single, stole two bases and came home on left fielder Maddie Fowley’s grounder to make it 3-1.
Carr deserved a better fate. The southpaw gave up seven hits, walked one and was charged with just two earned runs against the hard-hitting Lions.
“She didn’t play last year,” Knill said. “But she has come back and played well.”
So have the Falcons, who have already more than doubled last year’s win total.
“The girls who are here want to make a change, and they’re buying into what I’m saying,” she said about the turnaround.
Pullen said she relied mostly on her fastball to tame the Falcons.
“I did want to do it (off-speed), but this is a really good hitting team, and they probably would have smashed the change-up,” she said.
No. 4 Dulaney 3, No. 10 Winters Mill 1
Winters Mill 000 010 0 – 1 3 1
Dulaney 110 100 0 – 3 7 0
Lily Carr and Meg Alisaukas; Akirra Pullen and Hodiste
2B: Dulaney – Shannon Musolf, Alleshia Pullen; Winters Mill – Taylor Glover
HR: Dulaney – Akirra Pullen