Big hits, solid defense boost No. 1 over No. 2

Gibson strikes out 5 as Cougars defeat Eagles a 2nd time

Chesapeake-AA 6 Northeast 1

Softball

April 27, 2006|By GLENN GRAHAM | GLENN GRAHAM,SUN REPORTER

The Chesapeake-AA softball team has methodically worked its way to the top of The Sun's Top 15 poll with a hard-hitting lineup, dominating pitching and a defense that can make the big play.

Making their debut at the No. 1 spot yesterday, the host Cougars put all those assets to use in coming away with a surprisingly easy win over No. 2 Northeast.

Freshman second baseman Kelly Hickman shrugged off a recent slump at the plate with a triple, single and three RBIs; fellow freshman pitcher Lauren Gibson got the tough outs when needed and made use of the defense behind her as the Cougars came away with a 6-1 win over the Eagles.

Chesapeake improves to 14-1 and 10-1 in Anne Arundel play; Northeast falls to 12-2 and 9-2 in the league. Both of the Eagles' losses this season have come against the Cougars.

"The key is you get a good pitching performance and defensively we've felt good all year and getting some line drive hits - there weren't any cheap ones - and everybody was in it. This is always big when we play Northeast - cross-town rivals and all," Chesapeake coach Don Ellenberger said.

The Cougars went right to work against Northeast freshman pitcher Heather Brown with two runs in the first inning. Sophomore shortstop Angela Yannone lined a two-out single to score Brooke Owen (2-for-3, two runs) before Hickman drove her in with a deep triple to right.

Three more runs came across in the third with Hickman again providing the big hit, a single up the middle to score two that gave the Cougars a 5-1 lead.

Gibson finished with five strikeouts and allowed six hits as the Eagles stranded two runners in the third and left the bases loaded in the fifth. Yannone made a fine play deep in the hole to get the final out in the third; right fielder Amanda Santoni went a long way to grab a foul popup that retired the side in the fifth; and the Cougars turned their first conventional 6-4-3 double play in the seventh to cap the win.

Northeast first baseman Megan Henne had two singles and scored the Eagles' only run, coming in on a single by Brown.

"[Chesapeake] is a quality team. We always give them a good game and I'm a little disappointed that we couldn't have given them a better game," Northeast coach Marianne Shultz said. "I think it was closer than the score indicated just because we stranded some runners and things like that, but I do think the force on some of their shots were definitely decisive and maybe mentally got in our heads a little it."

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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