COLLEGE PARK — — Staked with an early lead, Northern-Calvert ace Kaitlyn Schmeiser was simply too overwhelming for third-ranked Howard in Saturday's Class 3A state championship at the University of Maryland.
Schmeiser, a Maryland recruit who threw four perfect games this season, allowed just one hit — a first-inning single to Katie Wilkinson — and struck out 16 in the 3-0 victory. She also won her fourth consecutive state title with the Patriots.
Howard coach Dave Vezzi said the key was to be as aggressive as possible when players did reach base, and the Lions managed to steal two bases in the first three innings. However, getting runners was difficult against Schmeiser, who allowed just three batters over the minimum.
"You don't win four state championships in a row without having quality out there," Vezzi said. "They're a great team, obviously. We're a team that has to score runs."
The Patriots (22-0) entered the game ranked No. 1 by The Washington Post and as high as 11th nationally by USA Today. The Lions (21-3) were making their first appearance in the finals after advancing to the semifinals in 1996, 1999 and 2010.
Northern took a 1-0 lead in the second on a single by Kelsey Graham that allowed Tayler Schaefer to score from second on an errant throw. The Patriots then increased the lead to 3-0 in the fourth on an RBI double by Lindsey Schmeiser, who later scored on a single by Schaefer.
"It seems like the team that always scores first is going to be able to hold that down," Kaitlyn Schmeiser said. "I think we're really in that when we do get that first hit. We really roll with it. We got this confidence where we say 'We can do this.' We just have so much confidence in each other."
Howard junior Kensey O'Neill, who finished the season at 11-1, entered in the fourth inning and did not allow a run the rest of the way. She said expectations will be high again next season with just three seniors on the roster this year.
"We did really well this year," O'Neill said. "We all picked each other up. Our defense was key this year. We'll miss our seniors next year, but hopefully we'll be able to pull through without them."
Class 3A State Finals
Northern-Calvert 3, No. 3 Howard 0
Howard 000 000 0 – 0 1 2
Northern 012 000 X – 3 6 0
O'Connor, O'Neill (4) and Frick; K. Schmeiser and Orlandi. 2B: N- K. Schaeffer, L Schmeiser, Orlandi.