When Kourtney Salvarola struck out the final batter in Friday's Class 4A East regional championship against Chesapeake-Anne Arundel, the top-ranked Broadneck girls softball team gathered at home plate and chanted in unison, "Win it for Coach Ware."
The 8-2 victory over the visiting Cougars was huge for Broadneck's program. Not only did the Bruins end two consecutive years of the frustration of losing to Chesapeake in the regional final, but they also were able to dedicate a monumental win to their late coach, Jim Ware, who died over the summer at the age of 62.
Bruins coach Reese Kiple, who served as Ware's assistant, was almost overcome with emotion after the teams finished shaking hands. Broadneck enters the state semifinals at 18-0 and is looking to give Ware an even bigger tribute with a state title.
"It's been about that from Day One," Kiple said. "We haven't really talked about it a whole lot, but they had it in their hearts the whole season. I am sure he is looking down on us today, and he is pretty proud of these young ladies."
Salvarola pitched a gem of a game for Broadneck. After allowing two runs - one earned and one unearned - in the second inning, Salvarola retired 13 of the next 14 batters. She allowed two hits and struck out six with six walks.
Chesapeake's Lauren Gibson, The Sun's two-time All-Metro Player of the Year, ended her high school career by allowing 11 hits, with six strikeouts and four walks.
With the score tied at 2 in the fifth inning, Salvarola walked, and Ashley Thomas and Adrienne Gebele hit back-to-back triples. Diana Naylor, Jill Siok and Kallie Lucas each singled in the middle of the order, and Broadneck built a 6-2 lead.
"I think we were coming out here ready to play. We were prepared and hit the [heck] out of the ball," Salvarola said. "If we hit the ball the way we hit today, I don't think we can be stopped."
After Ashley Thomas scored on a wild pitch and Lucas singled home another Bruins run in the sixth, Salvarola shut the door on Chesapeake in the final inning, ending the Cougars' two-year reign as state champs.
"We knew it was going to come down to one big inning," Chesapeake coach Don Ellenberger said. "It's a tough way for the seniors to go out. But we'll start rebuilding next year."
Franklin 5, Catonsville 2: : Right-hander Jordan Eades (16-2) gave up two runs off five hits and struck out seven as the host Indians (19-2) beat the Comets in the Class 3A regional final.
Franklin faces the winner of Paint Branch/Urbana next week.