For a team that hadn't won a single softball game in five years, Annapolis proved yesterday that it hadn't forgotten how to celebrate a win.
Panther coach Gloria Day was the victim of a ceremonial ice-water dousing just moments after Annapolis emerged with an 8-7, 10-inning win over Southern -- the Panthers' first "W" in the last 90 outings.
Winning pitcher Jennifer Mauch scorched a two-out single to rightfield in the bottom of the 10th to drive in Uyen Do.
"As soon as I saw the ball go in the outfield, the first words out of my mouth were 'Lord, have mercy,' " said the second-year coach.
"I finally got the chance to breathe a sigh of relief; there sure isn't as much pressure on us anymore."
Mauch's game-winner was made possible by aninfield single by Do (3-for-5), who beat out the throw by shortstop Lena Nuckols.
Bulldog pitcher Jennifer Bush then gave right fielder Leeta White a free pass to first and threw a wild pitch past catcher Christie Padgett.
"She (Day) just told me to swing at anything that looked good," said Mauch, who went 2-for-6 with two RBI, in addition to striking out five Southern batters. "When I hit it, the first thing I thought was, 'Please go in, please go in.' "
The junior transfer from Friendly High, Prince Georege's County, might not have gotten the chance to help avenge last Thursday's 2-1 heart-breaking loss to the Bulldogs had it not been for a crucial eighth-inning defensive play.
With runners on first and third and no one out, Amy Manifold blooped a single just out of the reach of third baseman Do.
Doalertly picked up the ball and threw a perfect strike to catcher JenEnriquez, who tagged out base runner Rachel Lee. Chrissy Mudd then popped up to Mauch, and Tonia Nuckols grounded out to end the inning.
"That play at third really lifted their spirits up. It proved to be very important," said Day. "Before the beginning of the eighth, they had came in and said, 'We're tired.' Then I told them, 'So is the other team.' We just had to keep holding them defensively and we wouldbe able to stay in the game."
After jumping on top, 1-0, in the top of the second, Annapolis (1-16) reeled off four runs in the bottomof the third frame for a 5-1 lead, benefiting from four singles and two errors during the barrage.
In the next at-bat, Southern (3-14)moved to within two, at 5-3. Mauch and Nikki Finkelstein each added an RBI to put the Panthers up, 7-3, at the end of four innings.
The Dawgs then slowly but surely evened the count at seven during the sixth inning, using a sacrifice bunt by Mudd to score Karen Jamerson.
"With the girls' enthusiasm and great spirit, we felt pretty good going into today's game," said Day, who previously had served as coach at Southern. "We all felt pretty positive. We knew that both teams had the same skill level, so it was a matter of playing good defense and minimizing the errors.
"I knew that we could do it. The type of kids I had to work with this year were kind of special. Sort of different from the ones I've had in years past. They put in a lot of hard work and a lot of effort. They finally jelled together to the pointwhere they thought they would win.
"I really feel good for the seniors, (shortstop Jodie Smith and
infielder Ivy Bridgette), especially Jodie. She has been here through three long years. The only regret I have is now that the streak is finally over, we probably won't get any more publicity."
Smith summed up the Panthers' mood while engaging in a post-congratulatory embrace with teammate Mauch. "We're gonna have a party!!!"