North County softball coach Sue Fitchett wasn't overly concerned with her team's 7-2 loss to Old Mill in the final of Saturday's Holiday Tournament at North County High.
"Our intention, just because we offer a tournament, is not to go in with the killer instinct that we want to win it all," said Fitchett. "Our idea is to showcase the kids and give everyone a chance to play -- which we did.
"This is the third year of this tournament and we haven't won it yet, but that's not the idea of it."
After showcasing ace windmiller Karen Hay in North County's first-round 4-2 win over Glen Burnie, Fitchett went with backup pitcher Kristie Rhinehart in the finale andpaid dearly.
Conversely, if the champion Old Mill team proved anything Saturday, it was the ability to rotate pitchers without losing any firepower on the mound.
Jen Bostak took the hill for the Patriots in their tournament opener against defending Baltimore Catholic League champion Archbishop Spalding, and thanks to some timely hitting, earned a 3-2 victory.
Spalding's star windmiller, Kim Sheridan, struck out 16 in that game, but the Cavaliers scored just two runs, despite eight hits. Senior Jen Schmittle replaced Bostak in the sixth inning and struck out four to preserve the win.
Schmittle got the nod from Old Mill first-year coach Lori Darnall in the second game, and recorded seven more strikeouts in the complete game victory over the Knights (11-2).
"Our pitching depth definitely helps in tournaments like this," Darnall said afterward, while clutching the tournament trophy. "Where most people only have one pitcher, I have the two of them, and I still had Karen (Jacobson) I could have put in."
In Saturday's finale, Schmittle opened things up for the Patriots (9-0) in the bottom of the third, ripping her second single of the day off the over-matched Rhinehart.
Catcher Sarah Storrs' single scored Schmittle and Bostak, who had reached on an error.
Cindy Parulis putthe visiting Pats ahead, 3-0, a little later when she roped a tripleto bring home Storrs.
Old Mill picked up one run on three errors in the fourth inning and another unearned run in the fifth.
"We make at least two errors a game and that is a major problem for us," said Fitchett. "Our defense has to be on its toes, especially when Karen (Hay) is not out there."
The Knights managed to get two runs across in the top of the sixth inning, with RBI credited to Lisa Garrison and Tina Armstrong, before Schmittle retired the side in North County's half of the seventh.
When Schmittle wasn't busy on the mound,she was keeping opposing defenses busy with her 6-for-8 hitting performance in the two games. The talented senior had three hits in each game, and scored three runs in the final.
"She's just having an outstanding week," Darnall said. "She's producing the runs, scoring theruns and helping us out on defense with her pitching. She's really coming around and I'm very pleased to see that."
Something else Darnall is happy to see is support from her bench, both vocally and physically.
"Everything is going right for us," said Darnall, whose squad will face Broadneck on Tuesday and Spalding again on Wednesday. "Our pitching is going right, and when our regular hitters aren't hitting, people are coming in off of the bench and hitting.
"We don't have one person who leads everything. Everybody fills in. I'm not sure how they keep doing it, but they keep doing it."