Gibson's no-hitter lifts Cougars to 6th title

Softball Class 4A

No. 2 Chesapeake-AA 2 Damascus 0

May 27, 2007|By Glenn Graham | Glenn Graham,Sun reporter

COLLEGE PARK -- Close no more.

After falling one run short of a state title last year, the Chesapeake-Anne Arundel softball team was on a season-long mission to make things right this spring.

Sophomore pitcher Lauren Gibson made sure with a dominating performance on the mound, throwing a no-hitter, and second baseman Kelly Hickman provided a two-run double in the first inning that gave the No. 2 Cougars a 2-0 Class 4A state title win over Damascus.

It's the sixth state championship and first since 1993 for the Cougars, who have reached the title game in three of the past four years.

Last season, they took a one-run lead into the seventh inning only to see C. Milton Wright rally for a 4-3 win. Any hint of nerves Gibson displayed as a freshman were nowhere to be found yesterday.

The difference?

"We won! We came out wanting to win, worked real hard to get here and we didn't want to go home with a loss again. It's just a great feeling," said Gibson, who was quick to credit the pitch-calling of senior catcher Sam Dulski.

The Cougars finish with a 23-3 mark, getting through the challenging East region with a 2-1 title-game win over Anne Arundel County champ Broadneck, which handed them two of their losses.

Bringing every starter back from last year's team, Chesapeake was able to meet the highest of expectations.

"It's difficult because you're a good program and you have the target on your back because everybody is looking to beat you. Really, it's about the kids - they understand where we've got to be and what we're trying to do and they work hard at it," said Chesapeake coach Don Ellenberger.

With two on and two outs in the first, Hickman knew exactly what she needed to do - and she lined an inside pitch just fair down the third-base line to give the Cougars a 2-0 advantage.

"It was really nerve-racking - I was up and knew we just needed the hit," she said. "It felt really good because it was states and it meant so much and I knew the girls would be up after that and everyone would do well."

The Hornets (18-3) had a runner on first base in the fifth on an infield error and again in the sixth when Gibson hit a batter, but neither reached second.

Ellenberger had a hunch Gibson was ready.

"We had been talking ever since Tuesday night of: `Are you ready to take control?' Last year, she was a little nervous and it was new for a whole bunch of our kids. And she said, `We're winning - there is no other outcome here,' " said Ellenberger. "She put us on her back. You pitch a no-hitter in the biggest game of the year - that says something for a sophomore."

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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