Just when the Broadneck softball team appears ready to end years of frustration with a first-ever victory over Old Mill, something happens to keep the streak intact.
A runner stumbles after rounding third base and is thrown out at home. A potential run-scoring line drive barely hooks foul. One of the team's better fielders makes an errant throw to first base and allows the tie-breaking run to score.
Choose your favorite mishap. Each played a prominent role in the Patriots' 3-0, eight-inning victory over the host Bruins yesterday.
"We had base runners, and we threatened and just couldn't get that first run across. We figured once we did, things would start going," said Old Mill coach Debbie Shacklock, whose team was coming off a 4-1season-opening loss to North Carroll in Monday's Westminster Tournament.
Broadneck had a couple of chances to break the scoreless tie in regulation.
Junior Ava Tasker opened the fourth inning with theBruins' first hit, a booming triple to deep right. But she slipped rounding third base and was thrown out trying to score on a relay thatended with catcher Lori Lynch applying the tag.
Pitcher Crystal Adams followed with a single to center that would have scored Tasker.
"I wasn't sure I could make it. I got unlucky," Tasker said.
With a runner at second and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Broadneck junior Sherry Ness lined a fastball that came within inches of falling inside the right-field line. Instead, the Patriots were stillalive, and Ness would go down swinging.
With the game still scoreless, Old Mill mounded a one-out threat in the top of the eighth.
Jennifer Schmittle, a junior transfer from Glen Burnie, beat out an infield single to short and advanced to second on a throwing error. Denise Zellers laid down a bunt that Adams fielded cleanly, but her throw was wide of first base and Schmittle came around to score.
Then, as Shacklock predicted, "things started going."
After walking inher first three at-bats, senior Jen Dorr poked a double to right to score Zellers. Designated hitter Angie Sowers followed with a single up the middle to produce the third run.
Just another painful defeat for a program that's been in existence since 1984 -- the lone year Broadneck had a winning record (11-7).
"Four out of my last six games against them have gone extra innings," said Bruins coach Don Leonard, whose team was 7-11 last year, while the Patriots were 18-4 and region finalists.
"We're darn close to Old Mill, and that's sayinga lot. That's a great program."
Shacklock said, "They're a much-improved ballclub. They were mentally prepared. They felt they could play with us, and honestly, they did."
What Broadneck (1-1) couldn't do was hit Schmittle, who relieved sophomore starter Karen Jacobsonafter four innings. Jacobson was making her first varsity start after facing one batter in Monday's loss.
Schmittle was overpowering in her four innings of work, striking out 11 of the 13 batters she faced, including the first seven. The only Bruin to reach base was designated hitter Christa Battaglini, who blooped a single to right in theseventh inning.
"When I was warming up, I didn't think I was going to do very well," she said. "It felt like I was pitching a lot slower. It felt like my motion was totally wrong. I was trying to find what I was doing wrong, but then I got on the mound and everything worked out."
Jacobson was fairly effective herself, only giving up twohits -- both in the fourth inning -- and throwing just 32 pitches. She did not walk a batter.
As a member of the junior varsity last year, Jacobson issued only seven walks the entire season.
"I have two very good pitchers, and going at it the way they did tends to tie people up because they don't know what to expect or how to expect it," Shacklock said.
Adams, making her first start of the spring, threw 140 pitches in eight innings. She allowed only six hits and struckout seven, but she also walked six batters.
"We'd like to keep the walks down to four per game," Leonard said. "We feel we can make the plays defensively. We want her to throw the ground balls, keep the ball low.
"I'm happy with the way they played. I'm a little disappointed we didn't hit Jen Schmittle, but I think it's going to come. Ibelieve in these kids."