Westminster earns first state title, 1-0

In season of adversity, Owls overcome Dulaney, finish unexpected run

Class 4A softball

May 25, 2001|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Improbable.

That's the one word that can be used to describe Westminster's run through the playoffs as the No. 6 Owls edged Dulaney, 1-0, to claim the Carroll County school's first Class 4A softball state championship last night at Randazzo Park in Severn.

"It's kicking in right now," junior catcher Casey Brengle said of winning the final in the program's second trip to the title game since the sport introduced a season-ending tournament in 1976. "It's unreal."

The victory completed Westminster's journey from troubled enigma to state champion. The Owls overcame the resignation of former coach Lisa Harford, the graduation of six key players, and the absence of senior Kasey Owings (torn anterior cruciate ligament).

The loss of Harford, who stepped down during the off-season to concentrate on battling Parkinson's disease, was particularly traumatic for assistant coach Bryan Shumaker, who was promoted to guide a young squad with only three seniors on its roster.

And after back-to-back losses early in the season, the Owls were in a self-admitted haze.

"When we were 3-2, I thought we'd go at least .500," said senior left fielder Jameson Cowan. "I never thought we'd get this far."

But Westminster (16-7) marched through the sturdy East Region, defeating three ranked teams in consecutive one-run wins.

Last night was no different, as the Owls needed just one run against the Lions (12-11), the North Region titlists who were making their first trip to the state finals.

After Dulaney sophomore pitcher Stephanie Monte struck out Brengle to open the fourth inning, senior Krystal Dixon reached first on an infield single.

After a fielder's choice off the bat of junior Nichol Moeller drew a force at second base, junior designated hitter Tiffany Vickery slapped Monte's next offering down the left-field line.

Moeller's courtesy runner, freshman Jamie Hines, raced from first to score.

The Owls then relied on the right arm of Moeller (17-5), who struck out eight Lions, gave up just two hits, and allowed only one runner into scoring position.

Equally impressive was Monte (6-7), who struck out seven.

But the evening belonged to Westminster, which won with Harford sitting in the stands.

"I told Lisa, who obviously means a lot to me, that she's an integral part of this," said Shumaker, who captured a state title with the school's 1999 girls soccer team. "It sort of speaks to the character of this team, that they are still here."

Dulaney 000 000 0 -- 0 3 1

Westminster 000 100 x -- 1 4 3

Monte and Souchak; Moeller and Brengle. 2B: W-Hunt, Vickery.

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