Gabrielle Couture, right, of Chesapeake-AA slaps hands with… (Steve Ruark / Photo for The…)
Game after game this season, the No. 1 Chesapeake-Anne Arundel softball team has come to play with no secrets.
The Cougars always play fundamentally sound defense, get timely hits and simply dare opponents to try to solve All-Metro standout pitcher Megan Hyson.
In Wednesday's District V championship game against No. 6 Howard, the familiar recipe stood its ground again for the Cougars.
Hyson was overwhelming, striking out 15 Lions while yielding just two hits, and the Anne Arundel County champion Cougars scratched across single runs in the third, fifth and sixth innings to claim a 3-0 win over their Howard County counterparts at Bachman Sports Complex in Glen Burnie.
Chesapeake-AA (19-0) now has its sights on the program's eighth state championship, with Class 4A East region play set to start later in the week.
Hyson, who struck out the side in three innings by relying mostly on an overpowering rise ball, said Wednesday's performance provides further reassurance.
"This builds up our confidence that we won against a really good team," she said. "We hadn't played Howard] before, so we didn't know what to expect."
Howard starting pitcher Kensey O'Neill matched Hyson for the first two innings before the Cougars broke through in the bottom of the third.
Sophomore Olivia Ravadge walked with one out and came across on a two-out double by Kim Federowicz for a 1-0 lead. Ravadge would double and score in the fifth, and the Cougars would make it 3-0 in the sixth when Hyson doubled home Federowicz.
Meanwhile, Hyson was in complete control for her 18th win, yielding singles in the second and seventh to Howard catcher Kaci Frick, who also threw out two Chesapeake runners in the game.
"Meg's been doing it all year," Chesapeake-AA coach Don Ellenberger said. "Fast-pitch softball is all about pitching and catching and a couple timely hits, and I think we did all that today."
Despite the setback, the Lions (17-2) will put the experience to good use as they prepare for the Class 3A playoffs.
"We have the break between the end of the season and out first [regional playoff] game, so instead of scrimmaging it's great for us to be able to play against a quality pitcher like that," Howard coach Dave Vezzi said. "We didn't see that kind of pitching all year. We told the girls we won't see pitching like that probably until we get to the state finals, if we get that far. So it's good to see it — we'll know what to expect."