No. 1 Severna Park saves best for late in 5-1 victory

Falcons need 4-run sixth to put away No. 5 Pallotti

Softball

High Schools

April 25, 2004|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The top-ranked Severna Park softball team has developed a character-building trend that it saves for the later innings: hit a snag, then come back with a bang.

After visiting and No. 5 Pallotti finally broke through with a run in the sixth yesterday to tie the game, the Falcons' bats went to work in the bottom of the inning, turning four hits into four runs for a 5-1 victory.

Kristen Wojtowycz had the biggest hit, a two-run double to right-center that broke the 1-1 tie, and pitcher Kaila Jenkins went on to strike out Pallotti's side in the seventh to finish with 12 strikeouts in the four-hit win.

"We've come back in a couple games this season - I think three times - and that's something we never did last year, so it shows a lot," said Jenkins, who also had an RBI single in the sixth. "It's kind of crazy, but I said we should start out games down a run so we can get things done earlier."

With the win, the Falcons (11-1) also were able to answer their only loss of the season, coming on Wednesday when No. 3 North County scored three runs in the last of the seventh for a 3-2 win. Pallotti (11-3) saw its seven-game winning streak end, but took away plenty from the experience as ideal preparation for the final weeks of its Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference play.

As for the pivotal bottom of the sixth, Pallotti coach Paul O'Brien was quick to credit the Falcons.

"I don't think we had any letdown; they just hit the ball hard," he said.

"Our league is very competitive, and any time you have an opportunity to play a team of [Severna Park's] caliber, it can only help keep us sharp. It lets us know where we are."

With the score tied at 1 after Pallotti catcher Christina Smith hammered a homer to right-center, the Falcons were at the bottom of their lineup to start the sixth. Jen Wiley opened with a sharp single up the middle; Ashley Richardson reached on an infield error after laying down a sacrifice bunt; and leadoff hitter Katie Purcell loaded the bases on a fielder's choice.

That's when Wojtowycz found the gap in right-center to make it 3-1.

"We knew we had to get some runs across, so we came with high intensity," Wojtowycz said. "We had runners in scoring position and no outs, so this was the time to get the clutch hit. I just wanted to make it happen - I'm thinking: See it and hit it."

After Jenkins drove in a run with her single, Erin O'Keefe followed with a bloop single behind second base to push the lead to 5-1.

Pallotti pitcher Becky Zanelotti was in control up to the sixth, retiring 12 straight after allowing an unearned run in the first inning.

"I think that sixth inning I just got a little flat with my pitches - not as much spin on them - and they're good hitters and hit the ball," she said.

Smith finished with two hits for the Panthers, who also got a double from pinch hitter Katie Donovan in the fifth. Purcell singled and scored two runs for the Falcons, who will next face Anne Arundel County rival and visiting Chesapeake tomorrow.

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