MCDONOGH — In last season's Catholic League softball championship, Archbishop Spalding used scratch hits and a no-hitter from Kim Sheridan to manufacture a 10-0 five-inning shutout over Catholic.
In this year's tournament championship, the Cavaliers (18-1) belted out 12 hits in a five-inning 11-0 massacre of the Institute of Notre Dame for their third straight tourney title.
Only this time, Sheridan proved to be human.
After firing a no-hitter in Wednesday's 5-0 semifinal win over Seton Keough, the 14-1 hurler's bid for a second-straight tournament no-hitter was derailed by leadoff hitter Tiffany Wilkinson's first-inning bunt single.
After Wilkinson reached second on shortstop Nicole Dunleavy's error to give the Indians their best threat of the afternoon, Sheridan (14-1, 179 strikeouts in 96 innings) returned to business as usual, strikingout the next three batters.
"I was a little nervous in the beginning," said Cavalier coach Jim Nemeth. "But Kim did a great job of settling down after the first couple of batters."
Dunleavy, who alongwith Kerri Endler and Jackie Cordery will graduate this spring, ended the game with a two-run single in the bottom of the fifth, finishing off a 3-for-4, two-RBI day.
"I think I could have hit it (the game-clinching single) a little harder, but it still felt good. It was a great way to end the year. You couldn't ask for anything more in a senior year," said Dunleavy, who will play next spring on scholarshipat the University of California at Pennsylvania.
"I think we really deserve this. We just don't get as much respect as some of the public schools get."
Nemeth echoed Dunleavy's sentiments.
"We've beaten some of the top schools in the county this season. And we look forward to playing them," he said. "I think this team has the confidence to know that they can beat any team in the state. We consider ourselves to be a top team in this county."
As of Tuesday, Spalding was ranked No. 1 in the Baltimore metropolitan area by The Sun.
Kelly Mabe scored the game's first run on a bunt single by Carrie Lycett. The Cavs then exploded for four runs on four hits in the bottom of the third.
With one out, Lycett (2-for-3, two RBI) sliced an opposite-field solo homer. Dunleavy and Sheridan promptly smacked consecutive singles, with Dunleavy scoring the second run of the inning.
Shortly after Sheridan (eight strikeouts, 2-for-2 from the plate) scored on an error by second baseman Wilkinson, Jen McKeldin
delivereda two-run single, giving Spalding a 5-0 lead.
The winners would go on to tally two runs in the fourth inning and four in the finale. The game was cut short by the 10-run mercy rule.
"I think we made too many defensive mistakes," said IND coach Steve Kalb. "You can makethose mistakes against a weaker team, but against a team like Spalding, they will cost you dearly.
"I thought we had something going in the first, but we didn't get that big hit like we did against them earlier in the year," he said. The Indians dropped two earlier decisions to the Cavaliers, 5-2 and 6-0.
"Offensively, we looked a lot better than we did yesterday," said Nemeth. "Against Seton Keough, we had the tendency to look for the big hit early in the game. I told them that we had to try to and make things happen this time, don't force anything. I think they were much more intense today."