Excuse Archbishop Spalding's Jen McKeldin for being slightly winded.
After all, the senior catcher hadn't gotten around the bases so fast in her entire four seasons of high school softball.
"That was my first home run since I've been here," said McKeldin,who led off the third inning by smashing an inside-the-park solo homer for the final run in the Cavaliers' 5-0 victory over visiting Patterson yesterday.
"It felt kind of weird, but now I've got one."
The diminutive backstop blasted the fourth pitch from Patterson hurler Gina Netzer into deep left-center field. And as McKeldin rounded second base, left fielder Dawn Glass was just getting to the ball. Shehad cleared third base and was headed home as third baseman Tracy Conner received the throw.
"Wasn't that something?" asked Coach Jim Nemeth, whose defending Catholic League champion Cavaliers improved to 10-2 with the non-league victory over Patterson (5-4).
McKeldin,who scored her 14th run of the year and got her 12th RBI, entered asthe Cavaliers' fourth-leading batter at .387 -- the best in her highschool career.
"She's been putting up some good numbers for us this year," said Nemeth. "She's been swinging a good bat, and I hope itdoesn't end here."
McKeldin's crowning achievement came during another routine outing for her battery mate, hurler Kim Sheridan, who improved to 8-2 with 15 strikeouts and a walk.
The Cavaliers led, 2-0, after the first inning and 4-0 after the second.
Amy Councilman singled, stole second and advanced on a Kelly Mabe single. KathleenLegg's single gave the Cavaliers a 1-0 lead before Mabe scored on anerror by second baseman Brenda Shaver.
Councilman's RBI triple scored Michelle Chin for the third run, after Chin had singled and stole two bases. Mabe walked, stole two bases and scored the fourth run on another Legg single.
Meanwhile, Sheridan, who boasts a minuscule0.71 ERA, had whiffed the first nine batters she faced. And when center fielder Chin snagged two difficult fly balls, sandwiched around Sheridan's 10th strikeout, the windmiller appeared headed for her second perfect game of the season.
But Patterson first baseman Chris Preston, facing an 0-2 count in the fifth, drilled a shot into the gapbetween the bag and second baseman Councilman, forcing Sheridan to settle for her second one-hitter.
"We don't come out thinking that Kim's going to strike out everybody. We set a goal not to take teams too lightly," said McKeldin.
Sheridan raised her season total to 118 strikeouts, and her career 706 is 61 short of the county and staterecord held by 1989 Northeast graduate Jennifer Grinath.
"Everyone has to be prepared, like we're going to face a team that's going toget hits against her," said McKeldin. "Today, I thought we played very solidly, and we got the hits when we needed them."
The Cavaliers, ranked No. 4 in The Baltimore Sun poll, will need an equal effort against top-ranked Old Mill (9-0) tomorrow at Upton Park in an attempt to avenge a 3-2 loss in the semifinal of last weekend's North County tournament.
Patterson is one of the top two teams in this year'sCitywide League. Although Netzer (three strikeouts, six walks) yielded eight hits, she left feeling satisfied with the game's low score.
"We know how good (the Cavaliers) are, so this was a good experience," said Netzer (4-3), who played summer ball locally for the Jade Garden Bandits. "I just wanted to come in here and keep them from blowing us out."