Resourceful North Co. trips No. 1 Chesapeake

Mullins' pitching, defense help No. 2 stop rivals, 2-1


April 01, 2003|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Defending Class 4A state softball champ North County is doing things a little differently so far this season.

The No. 2 Knights are a young team, minus the bashers from last year's middle of the order that could put games away with one swing.

So instead - for a while at least - wins will have to come from the strong pitching of sophomore Beth Mullins, near-flawless defense and finding any way to score runs.

So far, so good.

Mullins scattered three hits and allowed one unearned run, shortstop Jen Roantes took care of the defense, and a clutch hit from Hannah Karaszkiewicz helped lead the Knights past top-ranked and Anne Arundel County rival Chesapeake, 2-1, yesterday in Ferndale.

All the elements were working for the Knights (3-0). Even some giant third-inning snowflakes helped when Cougars second baseman Meghan Hickman lost track of a pop fly that led to the game's first run.

"We had some key hits, got some good defense and that's what we have to do right now. And we also got the great effort from Beth Mullins - she's just solid out there," said North County coach Bobby Boyd.

Mullins was finding her spots and mixing her pitches well to keep the Cougars (3-1) off-balance most of the time.

When trouble came, Roantes' glove also appeared.

With Chesapeake runners on first and third and one out in the second inning, Roantes cleanly fielded a Hickman grounder, touched second and threw to first for a double play. She later snared two line drives.

"This win is great for us being so young," she said. "We lost five key hitters, but this just shows how much we still have."

The eventual game-winner came in the fifth inning with freshman Toni Evans opening with a single, stealing second and scoring one out later on a sharp single to right from Karaszkiewicz.

The Cougars closed the gap to 2-1 in the sixth inning when Brittany Owen (2-for-3) drove in Tracey Dahlen with a double down the third base line.

Mullins went on to retire the visitors in order in the top of the seventh.

"I've pitched in some bad weather but never snow," said Mullins. "It's pretty much the same as rain, you just have to focus a little harder on the catcher's glove."

After winning two tight games against North County last season, the Cougars found themselves on the other side for the first time this year.

"It was a good game - two good teams playing in some tough conditions. It was a tough loss, but one we'll learn from," said Chesapeake coach Don Ellenberger.

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