Has the Chesapeake softball team been a little cocky this year?
But don't confuse the Cougars' pride with overconfidence: Just about every team that has made that accusation has wound up on the losing end against them.
Friday night at Upton Park, the defending Class 4A state champion and No. 2-seeded Cougars (20-3) tightened what seems to be a stranglehold on the big schools, working over fourth-seeded Frederick, 6-0, for senior pitcher Amy Jakubowski's third shutoutof the year.
The win gave the Cougars their third state championship in the last four years and the fifth straight for county 4A teams.
Afterward, seventh-year coach Dennis Thiele and a few of his Cougars' players spoke in tones that smacked of self-enamored pride.
"Cocky confidence? You need a little of that," said Thiele. "If you don't have it, someone else is going to be on top."
"Yeah, we're cocky, but we have a reason to be because we prove ourselves," said senior catcher Stacey Grokas, who is headed for the police academy aftergraduating. "We don't have just talk -- it's action."
Jakubowski,putting an arm around the shoulder of her battery mate, chimed in, "She's right. We have action to back up our words."
Another Cougars' victory was all but decided after Jakubowski, who entered the game with a 9-2 record and an 0.33 ERA, took just 24 pitches to fan the first six batters.
Then the Cougars took a second-inning 4-0 lead behind Tracey Starke's bases-loaded sacrifice fly ball, bunt singles byNancy Yeager and Natalie Black, and an RBI single by Stacey Necessary.
Jakubowski, meanwhile, had 13 strikeouts, no walks and didn't allow a runner past first base -- all on just 77 pitches.
She retired eight of the first 10 batters she faced and had a no-hitter going until giving up a sixth-inning single to Cadets' pitcher Terri Summers (15-5).
Summers entered the game with 151 strikeouts, a 1.39 ERAand worked the plate well, even though she yielded 10 hits against the Cougars.
She ended with just two strikeouts but also allowed just one walk. Trouble was, even when the Cougars had trouble hitting her, they manufactured runs.
Starke crossed the plate to make it 5-0 in the fourth on Black's ground-out and Becky Thiele scored the final run in the fifth on a wild pitch.
For No. 4 Frederick (16-6), which upset top-seeded Oxon Hill, 11-1, to reach the finals, the game was an exercise in the Cougars' ability and the Cadets' futility.
It also signaled the end of Jakubowski's brilliant career.
And thesenior, who is headed for Fuhrman College in South Carolina, will sorely miss her high school days teaming with Grokas.
Thiele took over the program after a 4-11 season and led Chesapeake to state titlesin 1988 and 1990.
"The results this year were the same, but I think everyone this year had more fun," said Thiele, whose Cougars blasted No. 3 Springbrook, 11-0, in the semifinal -- a no-hitter for Jakubowski.
"Any time you lose the likes of Jakubowski, Grokas and (first baseman) Stacey Matcuk, you've got some problems. I'm not going tomake any predictions about next year."
But at least the attitude will be the same: a winning one.