After one day of rest thanks to Tuesday’s rain, the Northwest Jaguars were back on the softball diamond on Wednesday night in the quest to repeat as Maryland State Champs. They took one more step closer to that goal with a 9-2 victory over Howard High School at Bachman Park in Anne Arundel County last night.
The first inning was very similar as both teams sent four batters to the plate and got one runner on base, but that was it.
The Jags would go down in order in the top of the second. The defending champs found themselves down 2-0 as the challengers came to bat for the top of the third inning.
In the bottom of the second, Howard scored their only two runs of the game as Katie Unkle reached base on a hit to right field. She was moved to second on sacrifice bunt by Becky Merson. The next batter, Sophie Morton would knock a hit into center, and Unkle would score, and the Lions would draw first blood. Morton reached second on the throw home from centerfield. She scored two batters later when Shanya Gordon connected for a single.
In the top of the third, the Lady Jags found themselves in a two-run, two-out hole after two batters. However, senior Chloe Hickman started a two-out rally with a base hit to centerfield. Next batter, Karlie Stanford continued the rally with a double to center, setting the Jags up with runners at second and third. Sophomore Kayla Qassis would clear the bases and give the Jags the lead with a first-pitch home run to right-center field. Northwest lead 3-2 after three innings.
Howard started the bottom of the third inning with three base hits, but the Jags defense would get the lead runner at second for the first out. Howard eventually moved runners into scoring position with two outs, but Northwest pitcher Amber Yuille would allow a fly ball to center which was caught by outfielder Alex Karamihas to end the scoring threat and the inning.
Howard would not plate another runner in the game, as the Jags’ defense would allow just two more Lions to reach scoring position over the next four innings.
In the top of the fourth, senior outfielder Karamihas would start the inning with a double to right field. After a fly-out by Yuille, the Megans, Ridenour and Sheelor, would each work a walk, loading the bases for sophomore Shawnee Ronyak to hit a single to centerfield to score Karamihas and Ridenour. The Jags now had a 5-2 lead and were playing like a team that has won 14 straight games since April 30.
Karamihas reached base three times, on a single, a double, and a fielding error. She scored three runs in the game. Ridenour reached base three times in the game, including a three home run to center in the fifth inning which extended the Northwest lead to 8-2.
Howard was about to spray 14 hits against Northwest’s pitcher Amber Yuille, but the Jags’ defense was able to keep the run scoring to a minimum. Yuille would strike out five over the course of the game, including two in the bottom of the seventh inning to close out the game.
The 18-2 Lady Jags will play for the second straight Maryland State Championship on Saturday at the University Maryland, when they will face the 24-2 Severna Park Falcons at 3:30 pm. The Falcons defeated C.H. Flowers 10-0 last night.
Severna Park’s Marissa Heuer tossed a four-inning no-hitter, striking out eight, as the Falcons blanked C.H. Flowers. Severna Park has allowed just one run in the postseason in a 3-1 victory over South River in the regional finals. They are riding a 16-game winning streak into the title game, having lost last on April 20 to Chesapeake.
Top: The 2018 Northwest Jaguars Softball team has earned the right to defend their Maryland State Championship and will play at 3:30 pm at the University of Maryland on Saturday against Severna Park. Photo courtesy Principal Jimmy D’Andrea, Northwest High School.
Next: Sophomore Kayla Qassis hit the three-run home run in the third inning to give the Lady Jags the lead to for good in the semifinal game. File photo by Germantown Pulse.
Video: The final out of the State Semifinal game against Howard High School. Video courtesy Principal Jimmy D’Andrea, Northwest High School.