Northeast scores early, takes 9th state title

6-run second sets up win

Benner 3-hits N. Carroll

Class 3A softball

May 29, 1999|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Dominating pitching, flawless defense, and a super-charged offense: Put them all together, and you have the 1999 Northeast softball team.

The No. 1-ranked Eagles saved some of their best ball for last -- the Class 3A state championship game against No. 6 North Carroll last night. They jumped on the Panthers with eight runs in the first two innings and left Randazzo Park with a comfortable 9-0 win and their record ninth state crown.

Every hitter in Northeast's lineup found a way to contribute, senior Deana Benner provided the pitching with a three-hitter, and defensively, the Eagles made all the plays.

And it was nothing new for a Northeast team that captured the Anne Arundel County championship, knocked off perennial state power Northern-Calvert in the East region final, and finished the season with a gaudy 24-2 record.

"We hit the ball hard today. It felt good, looked good, and sounded good," said Northeast coach Marianne Shultz. "We just seemed real relaxed today. On the bus, everyone was comfortable and ready to go."

The Eagles pounded out nine hits -- including two triples and a double -- and, as Shultz said, everything was hit hard.

After a 2-1 win over Charles County's Thomas Stone in Tuesday's state semifinal, the Eagles were obviously taking no chances yesterday.

Senior Amanda Shifflett provided a run-scoring triple to right field and came in on Stephanie Adams' single as the Eagles put up two runs in the first inning.

In the second, Northeast loaded the bases and then got a two-run single from Renee Mrowczynski and run-scoring singles from Benner and Shifflett to push the lead to 6-0. That became 8-0 after a two-run infield error, more than enough for Benner and the flawless defense.

"They have the whole package," said North Carroll coach Rich Harvey, whose Panthers finished 20-3. "They hit the ball hard, field well, and get the tough pitching. That's a tough combination to beat."

Said Shifflett, who entered the game batting .563 and left it with a triple, a single and two walks: "This is just really awesome. We wanted to get out to the nice lead and play good defense for Deana, who pitched so great."

Benner improved to 7-1 on the season and lowered the 0.38 ERA she took into the game. She teamed with Tuesday's winner and fellow senior Stacy Smith (8-1, 0.23 ERA) to to give the Eagles the state's finest one-two pitching duo throughout the season. For good measure, sophomore Rachel Herrick went 7-0 with a 0.54 ERA on the season -- most of the wins coming early with the two seniors sidelined.

"After we lost in the region final [against Patuxent] last year, we came back this season and worked extra hard," said Benner.

Following the game, the Northeat players and coaches gathered around a bundle of yellow and black balloons and gave them to the sky in memory of former JV coach Linda Hackman, who lost a battle with cancer in April.

"Before the game, we decided we wanted to do something special, and we dedicated the game to her -- win, lose or draw," said Shultz. "She's been our 10th man and watching over us all season."

North Carroll enjoyed a fine spring, dominating Carroll County with a 9-0 mark during the regular season before coming away with a 2-1 win over Damascus to win the West region.

Pub Date: 5/29/99

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