The 2012 Cavalier Classic Softball Tournament featured a dominant performance by Archbishop Spalding freshman pitcher Ali Caulkins, a game-saving putout by Severna Park left fielder Claire Hanratty and a walk-off single by Howard sophomore Taylor McGrann.
The 12-team tournament included eight squads that were part of last week's Baltimore Sun poll. In the end, Severna Park won both its games and a third tie-breaker against Northern-Calvert County and host Spalding to claim the championship. The 11th-ranked Falcons beat No. 3 Glenelg and took down Urbana in the day's final game.
"We had a better team effort than we've had all season long," Severna Park coach Meredith McAlister said. "It was really nice to see everyone stepping up. We also had a calm about us that we hadn't had in a long time."
The Falcons topped Glenelg, 3-1, in eight innings. A single by the Gladiators' Nykita Vernot in the bottom of the seventh appeared to be the game-winner, but Hanratty fielded the ball cleanly and threw a perfect strike to home plate to get the final out. Severna Park then scored two runs the next inning that included an RBI single by Paige Briganti and a double by first baseman Emma Yale.
"I knew I had to throw home," Hanratty said. "After I made the play, we had the confidence to keep it going."
Severna Park and Northern each gave up five runs — the second tie-breaker. The Falcons won on the third tie-breaker, runs scored, with 14, compared to 13 for Northern.
Fifth-ranked Spalding also had two impressive wins against No. 8 Howard, 2-0, and No. 8 Broadneck 13-7. Against Howard, Caulkins allowed just two hits with seven strikeouts and no walks. The Cavaliers were just one pitch away from winning the tournament, leading 10-0 against Broadneck, but the Bruins rallied late, including a three-run home run by Kimber Salvas.
Howard rebounded with a 7-6 victory over No. 12 Chesapeake-AA. McGrann had the winning hit with a single to center field. Alicia Grant also went 2-for-3 with a walk, Sage McGrann was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and a home run and Kensey O'Neil went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
"I was confident that I could do it," Taylor McGrann said. "I knew I could hit the ball and it happened. [Chesapeake] was very competitive and could hit the ball."
Mount de Sales also picked up an impressive 3-2 win over Chesapeake. Sara Hughes and Karley Sites each had crucial RBI singles. Sailors pitcher Ashley Lesniewski competed against a couple of teammates from her club team, the Lakeshore Lightning, so there was some extra motivation. She allowed five hits with five strikeouts.
"It was great being on the mound playing against some travel-ball teammates," Lesniewski said. "I live in Pasadena so I would have gone to Chesapeake.It was a great effort by everyone. Our hitting has gotten a lot better from last year."
The Sailors fell to North County, 3-2, in their second game. North County's Kate Helmick hit a double and scored the winning run on a sacrifice bunt by Krystin Elliott in the sixth. Broadneck also took down Urbana, 8-5.
Mount de Sales. 1 0 10000. -- 2 3 4
North County 1 01010 3 6 2
Lesnieswki and Sena; Jones and Cooke. 2B: NC: Helmick.
No. 5 Archbishop Spalding 13, No. 6 Broadneck 7
S 300 062 2 -- 13 9 3
B 000 004 3 -- 7 5 6
Rouk and Traylor; Pflueger and Henson. HR: B-Salvas