The Aberdeen girls softball team came up short in its bid for a state championship last week, losing, 4-1, in its first semifinal contest in 12 years.
Aberdeen was unable to overcome a three-run first inning by Seneca Valley of Montgomery County.
The Eagles were primed for a top performance after two big victories in the regional tournament, over No. 1 seed Dundalk (a 3-2 win) and No. 2 Catonsville (by 4-1).
But in Tuesday's semifinal, Seneca Valley's pitcher Tricia Hunt took the mound in style, posting an eight-strikeout, one-hit performance. She doused any chance Aberdeen had of going to the state finals.
The Eagles have depended on pitcher Rachel Cassady and strong defense to win games. Cassady pitched all of Aberdeen's games this year except one, and finished with a 14-5 record.
"They were relying on Rachel and whenever she got in a jam
letting a batter get on base, the defense tried to dig in a little harder and make sure they didn't get any further," said Aberdeen coach Janie Robinson.
Cassady, who struck out seven, had no regrets about the team's performance.
"I wouldn't have taken anything back," she said afterward.
Seneca Valley scored its runs on two hits and a throwing error in the first inning. In the third, the Screaming Eagles of Montgomery County scored on an RBI triple from Sheila Meehan.
Aside from the triple, Cassady was in control after the first inning, striking out two in the second and third innings and retiring batters in order the rest of the way.
However, a sluggish offense kept the Eagles at bay.
The team's lone run was scored by Beth Oates in the fifth inning.
She reached first on an error by Seneca Valley first baseman Kim Woolman. Kelly Eakin then beat out a grounder to shortstop and Oates went to third.
F: On a Jackie Elliot pop-up, pitcher Hunt made an errant
throw to third base to pick off on Oates, who ran home.
Robinson said after the game that her major concern all season )) was getting hitting from the bottom half of the lineup, a weak spot she saw from the beginning of the year.
But that would not have seemed evident halfway through the regular season, when the Eagles were on top of the league with an 8-0 record.
After spring break in April, the Eagles played four games in one week because of previous rainouts, and lost to John Carroll, C. Milton Wright and Fallston. The Eagles and John Carroll finished with 12-4 records and shared the county title.
Aberdeen was playing its first year in Class 3A, joining county opponents Wright and Bel Air.
Robinson explained that, on a point system, her team could not have been seeded any higher than third in the regional playoffs even had they compiled an undefeated season.
This is because the team was scheduled against many Class 1A opponents, for which few seeding points are awarded.
Robinson will lose Cassady, Eakin and Oates to graduation, but hopes to benefit from the experience and skills of her younger players, who played well this year, especially in the postseason.
Sophomores Elliot and Sandy Davis and junior Krista Matherly should play key roles next season for the Eagles, who will remain in Class 3A.