Lansdowne's Sera Stull knocks the ball away from Easton… (Photo by Doug Kapustin /…)
COLLEGE PARK — — When a young Lansdowne softball team reached the state championship game two years ago, the Vikings admittedly were awe-struck by the spectacle of the event.
It also didn't help that Lansdowne was facing one of the top pitchers in the state in McDonough's Melanie Mitchell, who struck out a record 19 batters that day.
In Saturday's return trip against Easton, the Vikings played much more confidently, but a late rally fell just short in an 8-5 loss at the University of Maryland. Easton of Talbot County won its second consecutive title and sixth since 2000.
"We don't have many club players on our team and I think that says a lot when you play against a team with a lot of club ball players and lose by three," Lansdown coach Jamie Izdebski said. "Having the girls come back, knowing they've been here before, it wasn't as overwhelming as it was the first time. We showed ourselves. We didn't give up."
Easton pitcher Sydnee Schorr only allowed one hit through four innings before the Vikings began to catch up with her. She struck out nine with one walk and a hit batsman.
Easton (19-3) opened a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI single Emily Hawkins. The Vikings answered with two runs in the bottom half of that inning on a sacrifice fly by Maude McCourry and a single by her younger sister, Marlaina McCourry.
Easton tied the game on a home run over the center-field fence by Paige Knussman. The Warriors then took the lead with a three-run double by Maggie Hawkins in the fourth, and scored three more times in the sixth, including a two-run single by Lauren Trice.
Trailing 8-2, Lansdowne (19-4) mounted a rally in the sixth. Kelli Pease opened the inning with a walk and Hunter Long reached on an error.
Sera Stull then singled to cut the margin to five. Ashlie Smith knocked in two more runs with a single and the Vikings trailed 8-5 heading into the seventh. But that was as close as Lansdowne would get.
"We fought and fought to get to this spot," Smith said. "Being a senior, it was real important to me to make it again. We were pretty confident. Our coach believed in us and we believed in us. That's all that mattered."