Rachel Cassady struck out eight and allowed only five hits as Aberdeen's softball team defeated Parkside, 7-3, in first-round regional playoff action Thursday at Harford Community College.
The Eagles (14-4), seeded second in Class 2A Region IV, were to play top-seeded Stephen Decatur yesterday, with the winner advancing to the state final four. Decatur (17-1) no-hit North Harford on the way to a 5-0 victoryThursday in Worchester County. The only team to beat Decatur this year was Parkside.
One other local team also advanced as Havre de Grace outlasted Owings Mills in an 11-inning game, 6-5. The Warriors (8-9), seeded second in Class 1A Region III, were to meet No. 1 seed Francis Scott Key,of Carroll County. Key was a 12-6 winner over Sparrows Point Thursday.
If the Eagles or the Warriors advance, they will play in the state semifinals Tuesday at Upton Park, near Glen Burnie. The Warriors would play at 3 p.m. while the Eagles would play at either 3 or 5:30 p.m. The state finals are scheduled for Friday at 6 p.m.
For Aberdeen, which last advanced to the state final four in 1980, Cassady gotoff to a strong start, striking out four batters in the first two innings. The junior didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning, when Parkside smacked a single and then a double to score its first run.
By then, the Eagles had a seven-run lead. Catcher Debbie Ayers had the hot bat for the Eagles, going 2-for-2 with two walks and driving inthree runs. Cassady and Carla Giles also drove in runs.
In addition to their strong pitching and hitting, the Eagles also played near-flawless defense. They had only one error -- a throwing slip that allowed two runs to score in the sixth inning. But center fielder Giles cut off the Rams' sixth-inning rally by gunning down a runner trying to score from second on a single.
"We played an excellent ball game today," said Eagles coach Janie Anderson-Robinson, whose squad finished second behind John Carroll in the Harford County league. "We've played a couple of other games like that where we've played excellentdefense behind Rachel. If we can keep that up, we'll be in good shape."
Havre de Grace got its winning run in the bottom of the 11th when Owings Mills' pitcher Sheri Lichtenberg walked Lauren Foell withthe bases loaded.
Rebecca Hawkins led off the inning with a single, the Warriors' first hit in extra innings. Karen Romanelli sacrificed her to second on a bunt. Jayme Smith drew a walk and Lisa Scarborough followed with another single to load the bases for Foell.
The Warriors got only one other earned run when Romanelli tripled in the fourth inning to drive in Hawkins.