Spalding finds its way back to top, 3-1

Losing IAAM `A' final in '01, Cavs come back, beat IND for second title in 3 years

High Schools


May 12, 2002|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

The Archbishop Spalding softball team's journey to redemption has been a yearlong process -- literally.

It was 365 days ago that the Cavaliers found themselves trying to absorb losing their first Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland/Catholic League title in 12 seasons.

And since that fateful 2-0 loss to McDonogh on May 12, Spalding has been on a mission to, as senior Jessica Saunders put it, "reclaim what we had."

Mission accomplished. The No. 2 Cavaliers grabbed their second IAAM A Conference tournament championship in the three years the IAAM has been established with a 3-1 defeat of third-ranked Institute of Notre Dame yesterday at Towson University.

The win helped Spalding improve to 16-6 and bury last season's memory of that loss to McDonogh in the tournament final.

"We really bounced back from last year," senior Missy Gunther said. "We were frustrated, and we were out to get back at everyone."

With the Cavaliers trailing 1-0 and finding little rhythm against Indians sophomore pitcher Ashley Gray, senior Meg Cowen opened the bottom of the fourth inning with a single to left field.

After a pop-up and fielder's choice led to two outs, cleanup batter Keri Lounge drew a walk on four pitches.

Saunders followed Lounge by smashing an 0-1 pitch over IND freshman right fielder Courtney O'Hara for a two-run triple. Gunther then tomahawked a single to right field to drive in Saunders and give Spalding a 3-1 advantage.

Saunders, who is one of the team's top hitters, said she was a little miffed that the Indians thought that she was an easier out than Lounge.

"When I saw them intentionally walk Keri, I knew that they were getting to me," Saunders said. "I wanted to get us some runs after that."

Runs were scarce, but IND (19-6) scratched out the first run in the first inning.

After O'Hara started the game with a single to center, sophomore Lindsay Lowder reached first on a fielder's choice.

Saunders, who improved to 8-1 by striking out 10 and allowing just one hit, struck out the next two batters, but also launched a wild pitch during the second strikeout that allowed the runners to move to second and third.

Saunders's 0-1 pitch to sophomore Kim Proctor was too high for senior catcher Kristen Marll to catch, giving O'Hara enough time to score. Marll's errant throw to Saunders at home gave Lowder the opening to try to score, but Cowen, who wisely backed up Saunders on the wild pitch, collected the ball and threw to Saunders for the tag.

Despite a solid performance from Gray (19-6), who already holds the school record for most wins by a pitcher in a single season, IND coach Greg Ehrman said his team knew one run would not be enough against the Cavaliers.

"We were able to get one off early, but we didn't expect that to hold up," he said. "The team was up even when they got three, but they are a tough team to come back on."

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