No. 7 North Carroll falls to hard-hitting Thomas Stone, 6-2

7th inning keeps Panthers from 7th championship

Class 3A state softball

High Schools

May 25, 2002|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

When the North Carroll softball team looks back at the 2002 season, the memories should evoke smiles and laughter.

Last night, those emotions were replaced by tears and a little frustration as the No. 7 Panthers were handed a 6-2 defeat by Thomas Stone in the Class 3A state championship game at Randazzo Park in Severn.

North Carroll, the West Region titlist, fell short of capturing its seventh state title and first since 1991.

But senior Ashley Martin said she was satisfied with her team's efforts.

"We got further this year than last year," Martin said, referring to last season's 4-0 loss to Northeast in the state semifinals. "It would've been great to go all the way, but I'm not disappointed."

Martin, who accounted for both of the Panthers' runs in a 2-1 win against No. 9 Severna Park in the state semifinals Tuesday, gave North Carroll (18-5) a 1-0 lead last night.

Opening the bottom of the fourth inning with a blast into the gap between left and center fields, Martin raced around three bases before Panthers coach Lloyd Ford -- standing in as the team's third-base coach -- signaled for her to stop.

Cougars first baseman Kandance Pickeral appeared to have caught Martin off third base, but her throw to third baseman Maggie Donaldson skipped past her. As the ball rolled into foul territory, Martin raced home for the game's first run.

But Thomas Stone (19-4) rallied to score a run in each of the fifth and sixth innings. North Carroll's usually sturdy defense committed three errors and a wild pitch by freshman Jessica Smith contributed to those two runs.

In the bottom of the sixth, Panthers senior Kristy Shaffer opened the frame with a single to right field. After a sacrifice bunt and a pop-up moved Shaffer to second base, sophomore Allie Honkofsky (2-for-3 and an RBI) laced a single to center field to drive in Shaffer and tie the score at 2.

But the Cougars from Charles County roared back in the top of the seventh and final inning. After a fielder's choice plated one run and with runners on second and third base, senior Jessica Fallica knocked in one more run with a single.

Junior Jessica Morris followed by launching triple into the gap between left and center fields and driving in two runs to make it 6-2.

Fallica, who pitched in 21 games, retired the North Carroll side in order to improve to 17-4 and help the Cougars grab their second crown in three seasons.

"They were great hitters," said Smith, who finished her rookie season with a 9-3 record. "I tried to mix it up, but they hit it."

For Thomas Stone coach Linda Curry, the 10 hits were a pleasant sight.

"We have a habit of sometimes coming up late with hits," she said. "We started hitting [Smith] in the first inning. We knew we were going to get her. It was just a matter of when."

Ford, who has guided the Panthers to at least the state semifinals in two of the three seasons he has coached the program, said he thought the game would go into extra innings before the disastrous seventh inning.

"In that one inning, a couple of things don't fall in for us," Ford said. "A good team takes advantage of that situation, and they did."

TS 000 011 4 6 10 1

NC 000 101 0 2 6 3 Fallica and Morris; Smith and Honkofsky. 3B: TS--Morris; NC--Martin.

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