For someone who hadn't pitched in nearly two weeks, Glen Burnie right-hander Tina Willis looked positively comfortable on the softball mound yesterday.
The senior threw a no-hitter, issuing just three walks, to power the visiting and fifth-ranked Gophers to a 3-0 victory over No. 7 Severna Park.
Willis (3-2), who struck out 12, flirted with a perfect game for 5 2/3 innings before she walked sophomore Shannon Warco.
Willis issued back-to-back walks with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning before recording a strikeout and a groundout to clinch the win for Glen Burnie (8-4, 6-3 county).
"It doesn't really matter," Willis said of missing the opportunity to become the second Gopher to register a perfect game this season. (Last week junior Nicole Vogelpohl became the first Glen Burnie pitcher since 1989 to have a perfect game.) "As long as we win, I don't care too much about it."
Willis hadn't pitched since a 3-2 loss to North County on April 10, but senior catcher Jessica Griffith said Willis didn't miss a beat yesterday.
"She had a lot of speed on her fastball," Griffith said. "We used her changeup a lot, too, and she kept the hitters off balance."
Willis wasn't a slouch at the plate either, going 2-for-4 and scoring twice.
With one out in the top of the third inning, Willis reached first base on an infield single. After she stole second, junior Amanda Conley singled to left field to put runners on the corners.
Griffith lined a single to right field to drive in Willis and give the Gophers a 1-0 lead.
Glen Burnie added two runs in the fifth off Severna Park senior Laura Gibson (8-4). Junior Jackie Wineke opened the inning by reaching first base on a throwing error and Willis laid down a bunt to put runners on first and second.
Gibson struck out Conley, but the third strike eluded Severna Park sophomore catcher Erin O'Keefe, whose throw to first base sailed into right field.
Wineke scored on the play and Willis advanced to third. Griffith, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, followed with a thunderous triple down the left-field line that easily scored Willis.
Asked to assess the key to the outcome, Falcons coach Jeff Sheppard replied, "Tina Willis, Tina Willis, Tina Willis."
"She beat us at the plate and had a perfect game," for 5 2/3 innings, said Sheppard, whose team fell to 9-4 overall and 7-2 in the county. "We have three to four kids who hit consistently, [but] if we get a day when they're not hitting, it hurts."
For Glen Burnie coach Bob Broccolino, the team's third straight shutout was a bonus to the primary objective.
"I told them before they went out for the last inning, `You can give up two runs, just don't give up three,'" he said. "Shutouts are nice, but wins are what we are looking for."