River Hill completed a two-day sweep of the county's top two teams with a 7-5 victory over 12th-ranked Howard yesterday.
The Hawks, winners of five straight, defeated No. 14 Glenelg, 3-1, on Tuesday. Howard's loss and Glenelg's doubleheader win over Hammond left both teams with 12-3 county records with three games remaining -- the last against each other at Glenelg on Tuesday.
Howard outhit River Hill, 10-5, and from the third inning on outscored the Hawks, 3-1. But the Lions, who scored twice in the seventh and had the tying run at the plate, couldn't overcome a disastrous first.
"We gave them the game in the first inning -- that's basically what it was," said Howard coach Dave Vezzi.
Howard scored two in the first, getting a double from Lisa Foster and RBI singles from Stacey Swiney and Sarah Berg.
Then came the bottom of the first. And for Howard, it was rock bottom.
Howard sophomore pitcher Kelly O'Neill walked four, all of whom scored, threw two wild pitches, each costing a run, and gave up four hits. When she finally got the last out, River Hill had sent 11 batters to the plate and scored six runs.
"I just couldn't pitch over the plate," said O'Neill, who, after getting the leadoff hitter out, walked four of the next six hitters (the other two singled). "This was a big game, and I should have done better then I did. It was the worst game I've pitched this season."
Vezzi said that O'Neill "got upset with the fact she wasn't getting the pitches [from the umpire]," especially on the outside corner.
O'Neill walked two more and had two wild pitches in the second, leading to River Hill's seventh run. But she settled down after that, allowing only a third-inning single.
"She adapted," Vezzi said. "She threw well after that."
River Hill (11-6 overall, 10-5 league) got RBI singles in the first from junior catcher Marni Rosenbaum and freshman shortstop Amanda Bile, and a two-run single from sophomore designated hitter Brooke Kimball.
Gick, who had 12 strikeouts against Howard in a 6-1 loss April 9, had nine yesterday. She has 38 in the current winning streak.
Gick, who walked two, got solid play from her defense, including a nice running catch by freshman center fielder Carrie Kelehan with two out and two on in the third.
"We're coming together as a team," said Rosenbaum. "In the beginning, we were making a lot of mistakes. Now, we're playing with more confidence and making the routine plays. It's a lot of fun."