North County crawls back, inches by Glen Burnie, 7-6

5 runs in last 3 innings lift Knights to East semifinals

Class 4A softball

May 15, 2002|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

The North County softball team doesn't know when to quit.

Snatching victory from near-certain defeat, the visiting and seventh-ranked Knights scored five runs in the final three innings to complete an upset of No. 2 Glen Burnie, 7-6, in a Class 4A East quarterfinal yesterday in Glen Burnie.

North County (17-5) earned the right to meet No. 10 Westminster in a regional semifinal at 6 p.m. today at Randazzo Park. The reigning state champion Owls knocked off No. 3 Chesapeake, 2-1, in nine innings in another quarterfinal.

"We knew that we could come back and do it," said Knights senior Heather Frye.

North County completed their comeback in the top of the seventh inning. Trailing 6-4, Frye opened with a double into the gap in right-center.

After a wild pitch by Gophers senior Tina Willis (8-4) allowed Frye to move to third base, senior Brittany Boyd reached first on a fielder's choice.

Freshman Beth Mullins then smacked a single to center that drove in Frye, and sophomore Amanda Baldwin loaded the bases when she reached first on a fielding error.

Senior Michelle Brown drew a walk to push across Boyd and tie the score at six.

With a full count, sophomore Jennifer Roantes lifted a fly ball deep enough into center field that gave Mullins enough time to tag up and score from third base.

"I was thinking of when we played Chesapeake [on April 29] when there were two outs in the final inning and we had a girl on third, and I couldn't get her home," Roantes said. "I went for a pitch that I wanted and swung as fast as I could."

Glen Burnie had built a 6-2 advantage after four innings, courtesy of a two-run home run in the third by junior Allison Hohman and a three-RBI effort by sophomore Amy Grail.

But North County received a two-run double from Boyd in the fifth, and Mullins, who replaced Boyd in the same inning as a relief pitcher, limited the Gophers to one hit over the last three innings to improve to 10-2.

"I wanted to go to Beth in the fourth inning, but our batting lineup didn't help us make that change," said Knights coach Bobby Boyd. "I thought that with her changeup, we needed something to keep them off balance."

The season came to an abrupt end for Glen Burnie (15-6), which had entertained hopes of a fourth state crown since 1986 after upending former No. 1 Chesapeake for the county title last week.

"It's a bitter pill to swallow," said Gophers coach Bob Broccolino. "You can't take away the season from the girls. I just wish we were playing tomorrow."

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