No. 1 Spalding on hold, but leads Gators, 5-0

Mt. de Sales ahead, too, in storm-halted games

May 11, 2000|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The No.1 Archbishop Spalding Cavaliers are three outs away from advancing to Saturday's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference Tournament championship softball game.

The Cavaliers took a 5-0 lead into the seventh inning against visiting Seton Keough yesterday, when lightning and rain suspended play at Randazzo Park. The game will resume where it left off at 3:45 p.m. today with the Gators down to their last at-bats.

The championship game is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday at Towson University.

Today's winner will meet either Mount de Sales or McDonogh in the final. In yesterday's other semifinal, also suspended by bad weather, the Sailors led McDonogh, 7-1, going into the fifth inning. The game will be concluded today.

Yesterday in Severn, the Cavaliers took charge behind another strong pitching performance from sophomore Jessica Saunders, who had 11 strikeouts going into the seventh inning, having allowed two hits.

In two previous tries and again yesterday, Seton Keough hasn't been able to solve Saunders and the Cavaliers. Then again, neither has any other team.

The Cavaliers improved to 21-0 with their 3-0 win over Bryn Mawr in Monday's quarterfinal round and can add another win today with three more outs.

"This team is so well-rounded in every aspect," Spalding coach Linda Taylor said. "We have a lot of weapons and try to utilize every one we have."

The Cavs' primary weapon this spring has been Saunders, who was simply overpowering - again - with the Gators (11-6) unable to catch up with her rising fastball. The sophomore right-hander is 12-0 on the season with 154 strikeouts in 104 innings.

"All year long, she's been an overpowering-type pitcher, and she came out with the same fire - it was nothing different," said Taylor. "She's matured a great deal this season. No.1, she has a lot of confidence in herself, and No.2, she has a lot of confidence in the people behind her. That really puts her at ease."

Saunders got things started yesterday by striking out the side in the Seton Keough first.

Offensive support started in the third for the Cavaliers. A checked-swing single by Sara Merkl and a bloop double into center field by Keri Lounge provided a 1-0 lead.

Three more runs followed in the fourth, highlighted by run-scoring singles from Amanda Collins and Meghan Cowen. Saunders helped herself with a sharp, RBI single to center for a 5-0 lead in the fifth.

Three more outs are left with the Gators starting the seventh with clean-up hitter Danyale Goode at the plate.

After winning 10 straight Catholic League regular-season titles and eight tournament championships in the 1990s, the Cavaliers appear to be the same dominating team in a new league.

Baltimore County championship: No.7 Franklin's claim to a fourth consecutive outright Baltimore County softball championship was ended as lightning forced stoppage of its title game with Hereford in the top of the fifth inning. Instead, both teams will share the county title.

The Indians were leading 3-0 with two outs and two strikes in the Bulls' at-bat before game umpires halted play when they saw lightning in the threatening skies. The rain came a few minutes later, and after a mandatory 30-minute wait, the game was called.

"If we had won it on the field, I'd be jumping up and down," said Hereford coach Sam Bowen. "I'm sorry it ended this way. I'd rather settle it on the field."

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