Easton's pitchers, led by Drexel-bound Shelby Taylor, allowed just five runs in 24 games entering Tuesday's Class 2A state softball semifinal against No. 15 Eastern Tech at Bachman Softball Park in Anne Arundel County.
Taylor continued that dominance by allowing one hit with 13 strikeouts and no walks in a 8-0 victory. The Warriors are looking for their fifth state title of the 2000s against No. 14 North Carroll, while Eastern Tech will have to wait another year to try to advance to its first state championship. The Mavericks lose only three players to graduation, including starting pitcher Paige Yeager.
"We're young, with a lot of freshmen, sophomores and juniors, so this was a great experience for them," first-year Eastern Tech coach Jack Meyers said. "It's a building process for us. I'm sad to lose those seniors. Paige Yeager has been the heart and soul of this team. We had to work through some nervousness today."
The Mavericks (14-6) outscored their opponents 43-6 in the regional tournament but struggled against Taylor, a power pitcher who keeps batters off balance with a wicked changeup. A triple by Paige Knussman gave Easton a two-run lead in the bottom of the first inning, and that would be all Taylor would need.
The Warriors (25-0) increased their lead 6-0 in the second on a two-run single by UMBC-bound Caitlin Chance and added two more runs on a throwing error. Easton continued to pull away with single runs in the third and sixth innings.
Eastern Tech's Alexis Peay mustered the only hit against Taylor — a first-inning single. Peay said her team showed heart with its impressive run in the regional tournament but acknowledged it was an uphill battle against Taylor.
"She's a very good pitcher," Peay said. "But you have to be confident. You know you want to hit, or at least make contact. She threw excellent pitches and hit the outside very well."
ET 000 000 0 — 0 1 4
E 241 001 x — 8 10 0
Yeager and Sauerwein; Taylor and Hawkins. 3B: E—Knussman, Frase.