Old Mill hurler Jen Schmittle got right to the point in describing the importance of yesterday's 7-1 4A Friendship Division softball victory over visiting North County.
"We were just getting tired of losing," said Schmittle (2-1), who just a day earlier lost for the firsttime in two starts, 6-0, against defending Class 4A softball champion Chesapeake.
"We were really nervous against Chesapeake," added Schmittle, whowent the distance against the Knights with nine strikeouts, a walk and two hits. "Today, we just came out here with a different attitude."
"When they sat down and examined yesterday's (Tuesday's) game, it was errors -- six that were recorded -- that cost us the game," said Old Mill coach Debbie Shacklock, whose Patriots (4-3 overall, 4-2 in the 4A league) improved to 3-1 in the division.
Old Mill defeated Arundel, 7-2, Monday thanks to a 10-strikeout performance from pitcher Karen Jacobson. But Shacklock said the Chesapeake loss severely damaged their spirits.
"They'd been playing hard, but yesterday they just weren't making the plays," added Shacklock. "We only had fourhits against Chesapeake, but every batter was able to hit the ball at one point. That gave them the confidence that they could hit."
And hit they did yesterday, nailing North County ace Karen Hay for seven shots against just four strikeouts. Old Mill shortstop Christine Baer (2-for-3, 4 RBI) was the Patriots' heavy hitter, with a first-inning two-run homer and a fifth-inning two-run triple.
"I haven't been hitting real well, and I really needed something to give me some confidence," said Baer. "Today I went in there, and I think I just kept my eye on the ball, shortened my stride up, and I think I did a pretty good job."
What made the effort even more impressive is that Hay combined with Kristie Reinhardt on Tuesday for a 19-0, perfect game victory over Randallstown that included 16 North County hits. The Patriots' defense silenced a Knights' squad -- which hammered Meade, 28-6, on Monday, thanks to Cheryl Thomshack's 5-for-6, eight RBI performance, including a homer and a double.
Thomshack was 0-for-2 against Schmittle.
The Old Mill defense was so primed that Schmittle had a no-hitter going for 4 1/3 innings until giving up a run-scoring double to Hay with one out in the fifth. Tina Armstrong, the second to-last batter, singled in the seventh.
"(Old Mill) had a real tough game yesterday, and our two games were easier," said North County coach Sue Fitchett, whose Knights (4-3 overall) dropped to 3-1 in boththe 4A league and the division. The Knights face defending Class 2A state champion Northeast on Friday. "This game puts our heads back into perspective and focuses us on the next game. I was afraid they'd look forward to Friday and overlook today. I think that was the problem."
Schmittle gave the Patriots an immediate spark in the first inning, taking just 15 pitches to KO the Knights' first three batters.
Baer then did her number for the Patriots with one out and teammate Lori Lynch on first base, nailing a first-pitch shot to give the Knights an early 2-0 first inning lead.
Lynch (2-for-3, 1 RBI) had singled earlier in the inning by switch-hitting from left- to right-handed. Her second-inning single scored Amy McKenzie to put the Patriots up 4-0. That came after Mackenzie's single scored Angie Sowers.
After Baer's sixth-inning 2 RBI triple, pinch-hitter Maryte Ulekas singled her in for the winning margin.
Schmittle (five putouts) committed Old Mill's sole error in the fifth inning.
Although she cleanly fielded a shot by Armstrong, Schmittle overthrew first base, allowing Armstrong to reach second andeventually to score the Knights' only run -- on Hay's double.
Schmittle got the next batter on a come-backer before the Patriots put out Thomshack, 6-3. Hay was stranded on third for the second time of the day. Hay was walked earlier in the third, reached second on a fielder's choice and advanced to thirdon a passed ball before the last two North County batters grounded out.
"Everything started to fall in place today, and that just raised their confidence level," said Shacklock, whose Patriots face unbeaten Severna Park on Friday. "That's desperately what they needed. Today we were actually laughing after the game, and I hadn't heard them laugh in about a week."