Atholton clinches tie for title

11th-ranked Raiders deal No. 12 Wilde Lake 6-2 loss

May 06, 1999|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Atholton is No. 1.

Twenty-six years after winning its only county title, and 12 months removed from having to forfeit six county victories and officially finishing 0-18 in the league, the Raiders are county softball champions.

"Right now, I'm so happy I could cry," said Atholton junior shortstop Jessica McDonagh, whose three RBIs and spectacular defensive play in the sixth inning helped the 11th-ranked Raiders defeat 12th-ranked Wilde Lake, 6-2, at Atholton yesterday. "It feels so good to go from last place to first place."

By defeating second-place Wilde Lake (13-3) for the second time this season, Atholton (15-1) clinched at least a share of the county championship. Atholton, which broke open a tie game with a four-run sixth inning, closes out the season with a home game tomorrow against River Hill (12-4) and an away game Monday against Long Reach (9-6). Wilde Lake plays host to Hammond (1-15) tomorrow and is at Howard (10-6) on Monday.

Freshman pitcher Katie Zitnay, who has spearheaded the Atholton resurrection, got things started in the first inning by ripping Jen Babish's pitch over the center fielder's head for her second home run of the season.

The Raiders made it 2-0 in the second when McDonagh doubled home Stacy DeFino, who had singled and moved to second on a wild pitch.

Wilde Lake tied the score in the fourth when Sara Taliano's two-out fly to right field was dropped by Karen Lee, allowing Megan Lucks and Alex King to score.

Wilde Lake threatened in the sixth, when a leadoff walk and error put runners on first and second with one out. Lindsey Smardon then drilled a line shot to the right of McDonagh, who stretched and made an outstanding catch.

Taliano followed with a single to center, and Shannon Fitchett was waved home from second base. But center fielder Erin Caffrey fielded the ball cleanly in shallow center, and her throw got to catcher Sarah Costa in plenty of time for an easy tag.

Singles by Costa, Kelly Kemp and DeFino to open the sixth gave Atholton a 3-2 lead. One batter later, McDonagh followed with a triple to center. The Raiders, who had 10 hits, scored their last run on an error.

Zitnay limited Wilde Lake to four hits and walked one and struck out two. She retired the first 10 batters, eight on groundouts.

"Atholton has a reputation of not being good, and I think we earned the respect we deserve," McDonagh said.

She added: "It's the best feeling in the world."

Pub Date: 5/06/99

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