In the fifth inning of Sunday's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship game, a bad hop struck top-ranked Archbishop Spalding's shortstop, Melanie Gunning, in the forehead, and she stayed on the ground as teammates, coaches and a trainer rushed to her aid.
She was met by her father after being helped to the dugout, and began to cry only because she did not want to come out of the game. After being checked again for several minutes, the sophomore was allowed to return.
Gunning was rewarded for her courage when her walk-off double in the eighth inning gave the Cavaliers a 4-3 victory over No. 4 Seton Keough. The ending included some controversy when Gators pitcher Robi Zimmerman appeared to make a crucial diving catch at the beginning of the inning, but the umpires ruled the ball had touched the ground.
The title is Spalding's sixth this decade.
"I just blacked out for a second. … I really didn't feel anything," Gunning said about the injury. "I don't want to sit out the championship game. It could be my last, but hopefully not. We talked a lot about technique and not coming in cocky. We just believed in ourselves."
Spalding (17-3) led 3-2 in the seventh, but Seton Keough (13-10) was able to string a rally together to send the game to extra innings. Mikki Kouneseki singled to open the inning, advanced to third on a wild pitch and then scored on a single by Zimmerman.
In extra innings, each team starts with a runner at second base. Spalding's Emily Weiman retired all three batters she faced.
She then led off the bottom half of the inning and popped up a bunt to advance the runner. Zimmerman dived for the ball, and her glove landed flat on the ground. The home plate umpire ruled Weiman safe at first.
"It did not touch the ground," Zimmerman said. "It didn't go our way."
Seton took a 2-0 lead in the first on a double by Kouneseki. Spalding manufactured a run off an error in the bottom half of that inning and took the lead in the fourth on a hit batter and an RBI single by Megan Sprankle.
Maryvale 5, Notre Dame Prep 0: Jessica Butler had 13 strikeouts, allowing three hits and walking three, to lead the Lions (17-1) over the Blazers (9-3) for their second consecutive championship.
Suzanne Patinella was 3-for-3 with two RBIs. Butler pitched for Towson Catholic in a loss to Maryvale in last year's championship game.
Bryn Mawr 13, Park 5: Semaj Washington had a two-run home run to lead the Mawrtians (9-3) over Park (8-4). Tate Deweese had two RBIs for Bryn Mawr.
No. 1 Archbishop Spalding 4, No. 4 Seton Keough 3
SK 200 000 1 0 — 3 10 2
AS 100 200 01 — 4 4 1
Zimmerman and Kouneseki; Weiman and Straitz. 2B: SK—Kouneseki; AS—Gunning.
Maryvale 5, Notre Dame Prep 0
NDP 000 000 0 — 0 3 4
Maryvale 100 400 X — 5 6 0
Wisniewski and Nantz; Butler and Patinella. 2B: M—Patinella.