Chesapeake softball coach Dennis Thiele said he had two speeches ready for his players yesterday, "one in case we win and one in case we lose."
He didn't get to use the one that he had hoped he would.
The Cougars suffered a rare defeat yesterday, falling to visitingNorth County, 2-0, in a battle of the metro area's two top-rated squads. Chesapeake has gone 21-3 over each of the last two seasons in winning back-to-back Class 4A state championships.
The victory improved second-ranked North County's record to 4-0, while No. 1 Chesapeake fell to 1-1. The Cougars hadn't allowed a run in three scrimmages and one game.
Even so, Thiele said, "We still need some work. It's very early."
The Knights have made a favorable early impression. They've outscored their opponents, 45-6, and yesterday's game marked the first time they've been held to under 13 runs.
And with Karen Hay on the mound, they don't need that many.
The senior windmiller ran her record to 3-0 with a complete-game three-hitter. She struck out 12 and didn't allow a walk while facing only two batters over the minimum.
"She was unbelievable," said North County coach Sue Fitchett, standing in a rain that fell for most of the game. "Especially considering the conditions."
And considering that Hay, who was coming off a three-hit, 13-2 win over South River Tuesday, had been drilled in the right forearm by a Lori Congdon fastball to open the third inning. Congdon, a junior, had just replaced starter Kristin Spak.
"I felt pain the rest of the game," said Hay, displaying a red welt as proof, "but I couldn't show it."
Chesapeake's only scoring opportunity came in the last inning after Jaime Long's one-out single andNatalie Black's double. But Long was tagged out trying to score by catcher Lisa Garrison, and Tracy Starke fanned to end the game.
"She normally would score on a hit like that, but she was kicking up a lot of mud rounding third," Thiele said.
The Cougars' other hit came in the fourth inning when Becky Thiele beat out a slow roller to second. But Hay, who struck out every batter except Black at least once, retired the next two hitters.
Hay was in control from the start,striking out seven of the first nine batters she faced. She also benefited from an error-free defense.
Right fielder Kristie Rhinehart, who began the relay that nailed Long at the plate in the seventh, made a shoestring catch of Michele Manner's sinking liner in the third. And Garrison raced to the backstop to make a lunging grab of StaceyNecessary's pop-up in the fourth.
North County scored its two runs in the second inning on Nicki Faulkner's bases-loaded single to center and an error.
The Knights had mounted a threat in the first when Rhinehart -- who reached base three times -- drew a one-out walk and Garrison singled to left. But Tina Armstrong grounded into a forceat third and Hay bounced back to the mound.
About the only imperfection for North County on the afternoon was the weather.
"I'm just sorry it couldn't have been a nicer day, for the emotion that we brought here," Fitchett said.
North County returns home tomorrow fora game against winless Annapolis, which has lost to Queen Anne's, 6-2, and Broadneck, 7-3.
Chesapeake travels to Arundel tomorrow. TheWildcats are 1-2 after yesterday's 5-1 loss to Severna Park.