The Wagner's softball team didn't need to compete in the Maryland State Tournament last year, having automatically qualified for the Central Atlantic regionals by being the host team.
While it didn't enjoy the same luxury last weekend, the end result was nearly as effortless.
Wagner's easily claimed the Girls Fast-pitch 18-and-under Maryland state championship at Westminster, winning three games by a combined score of 19-0. It will take part in the regionals July 13-14 in Pennsylvania, where the top two finishers qualify for the nationals Aug.7-11 in Columbia.
The Riviera Beach White took the 16-and-under state title, while the Lake Shore organization emerged victorious in both the 14- and 12-and-under divisions.
After receiving a first-round bye, Wagner's rode the combined four-hit pitching of Amy Jakubowski (Chesapeake) and Kim Sheridan (Archbishop Spalding) to a 6-0 victory over the Tangerine Machine Saturday.
Jakubowski, the Anne Arundel County Sun's Player of the Year, went the first six innings. She also collected two hits, including a double, and knocked in two runs.
Glen Burnie's quartet of Heather Smith, Erin Sutton, Melanie Scharf and Lee Mallonee were a combined 6-for-13 with three RBI off Tangerine Machine pitcher Karen Hay (North County). Smith had a double and triple. Chesapeake's Stacey Matcuk was 1-for-4 with an RBI.
"Any time you beat one of the top three teams, you're doing pretty good," said Wagner's pitching coach Paul Tewey.
"Certainly, Karen Hay is one of the better pitchers in the state, so that's always a good sign for us."
Sheridan twirled a three-hitter in Wagner's 4-0 win over the Lewistown Tigers Sunday. The former Jade Garden hurler struck outfour and did not walk a batter.
Jakubowski again stood out offensively, going 4-for-4 with a triple, home run and two RBI. Spalding catcher Jen McKeldin went 2-for-4 with an RBI, and Matcuk and Smith each doubled -- with the latter knocking in a run.
Sheridan, McKeldinand Smith were added to a Wagner's team that only lost four players from last summer, when it won 35 games and took the Central Atlantic Region championship.
"Throughout the lineup, we're much deeper than last year, as far as the girls' ability to play different positions," Tewey said.
"We have more pitching than last year, and more depth in infield and outfield positions and at catcher. Sheridan and McKeldin have given us extra depth in two pretty key positions."
The Tigers came up through the losers' bracket to reach the finals. But guess who was waiting for them?
"It wasn't unexpected," Tewey said.
"They have two good pitchers and they play well defensively, which keeps them in any game. I'm not going to say it was a relief."
Maybe not, but the rematch was a mismatch. Wagner's pounded out 11 hits to prevail, 9-0, in a game halted after five innings due to the Amateur Softball Association's eight-run slaughter rule.
Jakubowski, who only allowed four hits and did not issue a walk, went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBI. Old Mill graduate Sherri Allen, now playingat Towson State, had three hits and two RBI, and Catonsville infielder Erika Backof was 2-for-4 with two RBI.
Smith and Sutton were a combined 3-for-6 with a triple and two RBI.
The Lewistown roster includes Damascus windmiller Marci Whitehead, who tossed a national record 15 no-hitters this spring, including four perfect games. But Whitehead did not appear in either game against Wagner's.
"We were hoping we'd face her," Tewey said.
Instead, Wagner's will be among the teams battling in the Hall of Fame Tournament in Oklahoma beginning tomorrow. The top eight finishers qualify for the nationals, Tewey said.
Also on the Wagner's roster are Glen Burnie's Mandy Albrechtand Michelle Ackerman -- who is recovering from a knee injury and might play in Oklahoma -- Chesapeake's Becky Thiele, Old Mill's Chris Baer and Mount Hebron's Dawn Thomas.
In the 16-and-under division, the Riviera Beach White rallied to defeat the Chesapeake Chargers, 3-2, in the finals. Chesapeake, which came up through the losers bracket, had beaten Riviera Beach, 2-1, in 11 innings, to force an extra game.
Lake Shore's 14-and-under team defeated the Arundel Blazers inthe championship game, while its 12-and-under entry upended Riviera Beach in the finals.