It took just 11 pitches for Lori Congdon to get through the first inning of Friday night's Class 4A state softball final.
Eleven pitches, and Frederick knew it was in for another empty night against Chesapeake at Randazzo Park.
Congdon, who emerged as the Cougars' No. 1 starter early in the season, struck out two and retired another batter on a weak fly ball to center.
The Cougars' offense wouldn't shower Congdon with runs. Then again, she only needed one.
The junior right-hander fired a three hitter, and top-seeded Chesapeake garnered its third consecutive state championship with a 2-0 victory over the third-seeded Cadets, who also lost to the Cougars in last year's final. County teams have won the last seven 4A state titles.
"I couldn't be happier," said Chesapeake coach Dennis Thiele, whose team finished the year 20-1 and ranked No. 1 in the metro area. "It just keeps getting sweeter."
And Congdon just keeps getting better.
She allowed two earned runs all season in going 13-0, and Friday night she struck out 14 batters without a walk.
"I'm really surprised by how well I did this year," she said, after hugging teammate Tracy Starke.
Thiele never had any doubts, though he didn't settle on Congdon as his primary starter right away.
"I've known Lori for years," he said. "We've been backlogged for years with a tremendous staff. But I knew when she had the opportunity on varsity, she would get it done quietly."
And effectively, which is what the Cougars needed against a stubborn Frederick team that brought a 20-2 record into the game.
Chesapeake loaded the bases with one out in the second inning on singles by Jaime Long, Michelle Arch and Michelle Manner. No. 9 hitter Nancy Yeager hit a pop-up that fell into shallow center field, scoring Long and forcing Manner at second.
Congdon then cruised through the top of the third, needing eight pitches to retire the last three batters in the Cadets' lineup.
When Long lined a home run to left in the fourth, putting Chesapeake ahead, 2-0, the outcome was decided. Getting one run off Congdon would prove difficult enough. Getting two runs was unthinkable.
She did find herself in one serious jam, when Frederick's Keli Rousseau lined her second single of the game with one out in the fifth.
Pinch-runner Addie Shankle stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch.
With a 3-2 count on Kristin Richeimer, Thiele called a meeting on the mound with Congdon, catcher Natalie Black and his infielders.
"He told me the run meant nothing and to just concentrate on getting the outs," Congdon said. "I tried to stay calm. I knew I had a good defense behind me, and I just threw the ball like I had been."
Thiele said, "If they get a run there, the momentum shifts. And we didn't want it to shift."
It didn't. Congdon blew a fastball past Richeimer for the second out, and she fanned Julie Desmond on four pitches to end the inning.
Frederick sophomore pitcher Terri Summers led off the seventh with a single, but Congdon again bore down and struck out the next three batters, including Rousseau to end the game.
"In the beginning of the season, I thought we might be shaky," Congdon said. "There were spots that I wasn't sure how well we'd fill. But the team came together, and that's how we got here."
During the week preceding the game, Thiele warned everyone who would listen that Frederick was no pushover. And he was right.
"This is a dangerous team," Thiele said of the Cadets. "They had a couple of hitters in their line-up, and they both touched the ball. But, fortunately, we were there."
And in position to win yet another state championship, with Lori Congdon leading the way.