The previously unbeaten Lady Jaguars softball team were able to take true stock of their abilities yesterday as they faced four-time defending Maryland State Champs Sherwood in a rematch of last year’s Maryland 4A state finalists in Germantown last night.
The champs remained on top winning the game 10-7 and handing the Jags their first loss of the season.
The Lady Jags have been rolling this season, allowing opponents just one run in their previous three games. Northwest opened the season with a 12-0 win over Rockville and continued winning with an 8-1 victory over Gaithersburg and a 14-0 shutout of Paint Branch.
But the Sherwood Warriors is the measuring stick. Sherwood is unbeaten in 84 games through the previous four seasons and is now 3-0 this season. The Warriors have won four-straight Division 4A Maryland State Championships, to call the Warriors softball program a powerhouse is an understatement. Sherwood has not lost a game since 2011.
In Tuesday’s game, the Jags went down early after a scoreless first inning Sherwood’s Faith Hanrahan went deep for a lead-off home run. Northwest pitcher, junior Bridgette Barbour would settle in and strike out the next two batters, until Sherwood’s Nanna Nalls would knock a base hit, and get home on a hit by Amanda Berkley and Northwest fielding error. The Warriors had a 2-0 lead.
Barbour would pitch the complete game striking out seven batters and walking only one.
The score would remain 2-0 until the Warriors exploded for a five-run fourth inning, aided by three more errors by Northwest. “The difference today was mistakes,” said Northwest Head Coach Mike Horton. “Our mistakes played a heavy role in this. We had about seven errors, and that is too much. And Sherwood scored almost on every error. They are a well-coached team and they feed off of your mistakes.”
“They were tight against Sherwood,” said Horton. “They are Sherwood, a well-coached, well-oiled machine. It is one of those things that until we beat them it is going to be hard to beat them. You have to beat the Yankees before you know you can beat the Yankees, I think that had a big impact on how we played defensively today.”
In the bottom of the fourth, Northwest began to find some life, as sophomore Karlie Stanford found a hole in the Sherwood defense and knocked a base hit. She would be brought home on a hit by hit by Alexis Mack and a Sherwood fielding error. It was the first run Sherwood had given up this season. However, Sherwood still led 7-1 after four innings.
Sherwood would get two more runs in the fifth inning to extend the lead to 9-1, but the Jags did not go away quietly. Northwest put together a four-run rally in the bottom of the fifth. Once again, it was Karlie Stanford who started the rally getting on base to lead off the inning. She was moved over to third on a hit by Barbour, and they were both brought home by Alexis Mack’s gapper deep into left field. Barbour slid into home plate just before the tag of catcher Brittney Mathis.
The Jags would score two more as Alexa Bowen took a 2-1 pitch from Sherwood’s senior pitcher Jamie Schmier over the centerfield fence for a two-run home run, bring in Mack and cutting the Warrior’s lead to four. 9-5.
Sherwood would add another run in the top of the seventh inning to extend the lead to 10-5, but once again the resilient Lady Jags would put a scare into the Sherwood machine in the bottom of the seventh. Once again it would be Stanford who got things started with a gapper to left, and again Barbour would move her into scoring position with a shot to center field.
With a full count, Alexis Mack would drive the ball deep into center field plating Stanford and Barbour to make the score 10-7. Mack would get caught in a run-down between second and third and be tagged out at second base for the second out of the inning and the game would end two batters later with a fly ball to left.
While it is another win for Sherwood, seven runs are the most runs the Warriors have given up in a game since before the 2012 season. “We didn’t give up and that huge,” said Horton. “Now our girls know that they can run with this team, in spite of the all the mistakes we made.”
The 3-1 Jags will play 4-1 Quince Orchard on Thursday afternoon. The Cougars are coming off of an 11-1 victory over Damascus.
Top: Senior pitcher Bridgette Barbour (7) delivers a pitch. She struck out seven Sherwood batters in the game on Tuesday.
Next: Northwest’s Karlie Stanford (4) had a great day at the plate, reached on an error, and two base hits, and scored three times. It was Standford that began all three scoring rallies for the Lady Jags.
Next: Northwest’s Alexa Bowen (13) rounds second after she homered in the bottom of the fifth to score two runs and cut the Sherwood lead to four.
Next: After knocking a hit deep into center field, which scored two runs, Northwest’s Alexis Mack (15) found herself caught in a rundown down as she attempted to go to third base. She would be tagged out at second.
Next: Bridgette Barbour (7) was also effective at the plate, she was 2-4 with two big hits late in the game. She also scored twice.
Next: Northwest's Alexis Mack (15) knocks a ball deep to centerfield to score two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Photos by Germantown Pulse