Raiders' unlikely run falls short

Northern 7 No. 6 Atholton 0

Softball Class 3A state final

May 25, 2008|By Glenn Graham | Glenn Graham,Sun Reporter

COLLEGE PARK -- Relaxed and poised throughout an improbable run to the Class 3A state championship game, the Atholton softball team finally came up against a team in Northern of Calvert County that hit a nerve.

Northern aggressively scratched across early runs, leaned on freshman pitcher Kaitlyn Schmeiser to get big outs and enjoyed a five-run seventh inning to break open the title game yesterday, coming away with a 7-0 victory over the No. 6 Raiders at the University of Maryland.

The Patriots (16-7) captured the program's fifth title while the upstart Raiders finished 17-6 after winning four games last year.

"I am really overjoyed to be here - it's been a great season," Atholton senior second baseman A.J. Ponce said. "We couldn't have asked for anything more but the ring - that's about it. The girls worked really hard this season, and we put all our effort into [it], so I'm very, very happy."

After scoring six runs in the first two innings to beat Franklin, 8-2, in the semifinals Wednesday, the Raiders could not get any big hits against Schmeiser, who allowed three hits and struck out seven to get the win over Raiders sophomore pitcher Chelsea Ponce.

Trailing 1-0 in the first inning, Atholton stranded two runners when Schmeiser struck out senior third baseman Robyn Biegel. Down 2-0 in the sixth inning, the Raiders had the bases loaded with two outs when Schmeiser got Biegel to ground out to third baseman Amanda Aikin.

The Patriots came back with five runs in the top of the seventh - pounding out six hits in the inning, highlighted by Chelsea Stern's run-scoring triple to left-center field - to secure the championship.

"I think we were a little tight," Atholton coach Maureen Shacreaw said. "We let them score on a couple of wild pitches, and that kind of deflated us a little. We had runners on twice and didn't get them in. We needed one hit. They're a very good team, they were very impressive, and [Schmeiser] was very poised."

With the addition of the Ponce sisters, transfers from California, and a promising freshman group to go with a solid returning corps, the Raiders hit full stride by midseason - upsetting defending 2A state champ Hammond, 1-0, on April 18, and then taking a nine-game winning streak into yesterday.

Freshman center fielder Erica Makar had two singles, and Laura Wells doubled for the Raiders.

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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