Chesapeake softball coach Dennis Thiele calls 5-foot-4, blue-eyed junior Lori Congdon, "the sweetest, kindest little girl you'd ever wantto meet."
Unless, of course, she's on the pitcher's mound, and you're on the opposing team.
"Then, she's just a monster," said Thiele.
In a 2-0 victory over visiting Friendship Division rival Old Mill yesterday, Congdon devoured the metro area's top-ranked team, fanning 13 batters and yielding just three hits with no walks.
"I just tried to keep them off balance by moving the ball around a lot, using the riser ball and hitting the corners," said Congdon (6-0).
Over the first three inningsand 42 pitches, Congdon (82 total pitches) retired nine of the first10 batters, striking out six and allowing a single.
With the exception of Old Mill's second-leading batter, Jen Bostak -- who cruncheda two-out double in the top of the fourth inning -- no Patriot runner got beyond first base.
For the Patriots (13-1, 3-1 division), hurler Jen Schmittle (4-1) had been steady as well, striking out three,walking one, and with the defense retiring six others over three innings.
But the Cougars nailed Schmittle for three of their five hits in the fourth, including back-to-back singles from Stacey Necessaryand Becky Thiele. Necessary was forced out at third on Jamie Long's fielder's choice, but Natalie Black scored Thiele with her single andthe Cougars (11-1, 5-0) went up, 1-0.
Long scored the second run from third base when catcher Lori Lynch was changing signals and Schmittle -- who already had started her wind-up -- balked against the Cougars' Michelle Manner.
"Lori called a screwball and I was about to pitch, but then Lori said 'No,' " said Schmittle.
The Patriots were top-ranked in The Baltimore Sun poll, in front of second-ranked North County and the No. 3 Cougars, a fact Schmittle said played a part in their loss.
"Because we beat North County (twice) and Chesapeake lost to them (2-0), I think overall we came into the game a little overconfident," said Schmittle.
The Patriots are winless againstthe Cougars in the last four games, including the last two Region IVplayoffs. Chesapeake beat Old Mill, 6-0 and 2-1, in last year's regular season, and 4-0 in last year's regional semifinals.
"Since I've been here, we've beaten them in seven playoffs," said eighth-year coach Thiele, whose Cougars must face the Patriots again in the May 11regular-season finale.
Old Mill's first-year coach Lori Darnall said, "We really wanted to beat Chesapeake, so it's a little disappointing. We played too loose today, like maybe we were scared."
And with good reason, since Chesapeake's miniature terror was on the mound.
With an 0.00 ERA, Congdon has done well in replacing the Anne Arundel County Sun's 1991 Player of the Year Amy Jakubowski (10-2, 135 strikeouts last year). Now at Furman University, Jakubowski led last year's 20-3 Cougars to the Class 4A state title.
Christine Baer was the Patriots' third-leading batter coming in at .359, but went 1-for-3 with a ground-out and a pop-out against Congdon. The Patriots' top batter, Schmittle (.515 coming in) struck out twice before getting a sixth-inning single in her third and final at-bat.
"I play for the Riviera Beach Spirit in the summer, so I've seen some of their batters. I had good information," said Congdon. "I was nervous, but I knew this was the game I really needed. I pitched my best."