Bonnie Lawson and Rebecca Hawkins had never met until Wednesday, butthese two softball pitchers will get to know each other pretty well over the next three years.
"She's a sophomore and so am I, and we will be growing up together," said Hawkins, the starter for Havre de Grace.
Hawkins and Lawson, who starts for John Carroll, already have reputations as two of Harford County's top pitchers. Their first meeting, at Havre de Grace Wednesday, could be called a draw.
Lawson had the better speed, but Hawkins had the better control. Lawson struck out 10 and gave up only three hits but walked eight and hit one. Hawkins struck out seven and didn't walk a batter but allowed 10 hits. Each gave up three earned runs.
However, Lawson earned the one statistic that counted most. She got the win as John Carroll beat the Warriors, 7-3.
Both Lawson and Hawkins are relatively new to the fast-pitch game. Lawson has eight years of recreation softball experience and Hawkins has two. Almost all of that was in slow pitch.
"One of my biggest complaints is that there are no fast-pitch teams up here,"said John Carroll coach Neal Drexel, who puts only Aberdeen's RachelCassidy in the same class with Lawson and Hawkins.
"These kids have been working with clinics, getting a little bit more experience. But especially for the pitchers, it's an altogether different ball game."
Drexel said there is a move to start a 13-16 fast-pitch travelleague this summer in the county.
To develop their potential, young athletes such as Lawson and Hawkins must work more than the three-month school season.
Both girls showed Wednesday that they have not only the physical ability but also the determination to improve. Five times, Hawkins fired in a third strike to retire the side with runners in scoring position.
Lawson did the same in three innings.
Both have come a long way since last year. Lawson was lost in a rotation of four hurlers in 1990 while Hawkins started about half of the Warriors' games. The Patriots finished 5-9; the Warriors were in a 9-7 season.
This year, those records should be much better. The Patriots have already surpassed last year's wins at 7-2. They are undefeated in league play, having beaten Havre de Grace and Aberdeen, 10-3, in the first half of their double round-robin schedule.
The Warriors (3-2 overall) are 3-1 in the county and were undefeated until falling to John Carroll.
In Wednesday's game, Lawson had a one-hitter going through the first six innings. But control problems helped put the Patriots behind, 2-0, early.
"It was just nerves," said Lawson, an Aberdeen resident. "Havre de Grace is a real good team, and I was really nervous at the beginning."
In the second inning, Lawson walked four, hit one batter and threw a wild pitch as Havre de Grace took a 2-0 lead. The Warriors might have gotten more, but a base-running error ended a bases-loaded opportunity.
The Warriors helped thePatriots get all of their runs with two errors in the third inning, two more in the fourth and another in the fifth.
"The defense has to come up with some plays if we're going to beat a team like John Carroll," said Havre de Grace coach Tom Trafton. "Their team came up with the plays and ours didn't."
The Patriots didn't commit an error. "Defense is one of our strong points," said Drexel, who has coachedJohn Carroll for 11 years. "With Bonnie throwing, they don't get a lot of work, but they can do the job when they have to."
With 10 hits, John Carroll had one of its better days at the plate. Lawson, Broadwater and Hollie Montague had two hits each. The Patriots' big rally came in the fifth inning with five hits and five runs. Katie Nietubicz drove in two runs and Broadwater drove in two more on back-to-back singles.