North Carroll senior pitcher Tara Lowder is much better than her 1-3 record indicates.
Of her three losses, Lowder dropped two one-run decisions, and she also earned a no-decision for one effort in which she threw five shutout innings.
Finally, yesterday afternoon, she broke through with a complete-game, three-hit shutout effort, as the Panthers knocked off 12th-ranked South Carroll, 2-0, in a Central Maryland Conference and Carroll County League game in Sykesville.
Lowder struck out a career-high nine batters, allowed just two walks and pitched her way out of a jam in the bottom of the seventh after South Carroll started the inning with back-to-back singles.
With runners on first and second and no outs, Lowder struck out sophomore pinch hitter Becka Roland, and forced juniors Teri Pierorazio and Loren Ackman to fly out in succession.
"The inside corner was working pretty well," said Lowder, who had a no-hitter broken up with two outs in the fifth inning. "[Catcher] Allie [Honkofsky] asked if I wanted to bring [Jessica] Smith in, but I was like, `I really want to win,' because I hadn't had one yet. So I finished it off."
South Carroll (7-4, 2-3 CMC, 1-1 Carroll County) had another good opportunity in the bottom of the fifth inning when, with two outs, Ackman walked and then advanced to third base on pinch hitter Amanda Laatsch's base hit. But senior Kristen Whetzel, who replaced Laatsch on the base path, was thrown out by Honkofsky attempting to steal second to end the inning.
On the other side, South Carroll's defense let down senior pitcher Jamie Hein (1-1). Making her first start since recovering from a neck injury, Hein threw a three-hitter. But the Cavaliers made three errors and both runs she allowed were unearned.
In the top of the first, Honkofsky hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Katie Riley, who had reached on a fielder's choice and advanced from first to third on a throwing error. North Carroll (6-3, 3-1, 1-1) went up 2-0 in the top of the third when Ashley Martin hit into a fielder's choice to bring home Kristy Shaffer. Shaffer reached on a one-out single and advanced to third after Riley reached on an error.
"We're in a hitting slump, and we know that when we're in a hitting slump our defense has got to keep us in the game," said South Carroll coach Charlie Fazenbaker, whose team had its three-game winning streak snapped. "When we make mistakes, give up a run and we're not hitting, it's hard to make it up."