Jenkins puts Severna Park on edge, then on top, 2-0

No. 4 Falcons take region after pitcher, a bit erratic, clamps down on La Plata

Class 3A South softball

High Schools

May 21, 2004|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Over the past two days, Severna Park All-Metro pitcher Kaila Jenkins has been good at making messes and even better at cleaning up.

In yesterday's Class 3A South region title game, visiting La Plata had plenty of batters reach base, but Jenkins would have no part in letting any come home.

The sophomore standout walked six batters, hit another and gave up three hits, but also struck out 13 and was able to bear down when called upon as the No. 4 Falcons earned a 2-0 win that sends them back to the state tournament to defend last year's crown.

Severna Park (20-3) will take on the winner of today's East region title game between Centennial and Mount Hebron in the state semifinals set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Randazzo Park.

Protecting a lead that came on Erin O'Keefe's two-run double in the first inning, Jenkins struck out Warriors cleanup hitter Tracey Webster on three pitches to leave the bases loaded in the seventh inning.

"They just asked me, `Do you like putting us under pressure? You make us scared.' I don't know why it keeps happening. I'm not doing it on purpose, but it keeps happening and you've just got to work out of it," said Jenkins, who made No. 1 Northeast strand 13 runners in Wednesday's nine-inning 2-1 semifinal win. "You just have to focus that much more on your pitches."

The Falcons were resourceful, opportunistic and powerful in taking a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first.

Katie Purcell stayed off the outside pitches from La Plata pitcher Carrie Higdon to draw a leadoff walk; Kristin Wojtowcyz bunted her to second; Jenkins singled to deep short and alertly took second base when the throw went to third trying to get Purcell. And then came O'Keefe, who smacked a double in the left-center-field gap.

"I hit a rise [pitch] that didn't rise, and that's a meatball for a hitter," she said. "If you're a good hitter, you have to capitalize on a rise that doesn't rise and I was able to get it."

Severna Park coach Jeff Shepherd has seen plenty of positive work from the top of his lineup, and clutch hits from O'Keefe began in last year's postseason when she provided game-winners in the state semifinals and finals.

"Erin is just as clutch as they come when it comes down to getting the big hit," Shepherd said.

"It's a little different feeling from last year because that was so unexpected," said Jenkins. "This year, it's more like achieving something that you set as a goal, whereas last year wasn't as much a goal, but something that just happened."

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