Indians can’t overcome Bryant’s two homers
— The North East softball team entered its state semifinal showdown with Catoctin having allowed only one total home run during its three previous postseason contests.
On Wednesday, it allowed two—a pair of three-run blasts to Cougars slugger Jessica Bryant—and the Indians never recovered in a 6-1 loss in the 2A State Semifinals at Bachman Park.
“It was just pitches that didn’t break. It happens to the best of us, unfortunately. They capitalized on it,” North East coach Kim Evans said. “There were runners on when when she was up. It’s heartbreaking, if anything.”
Vying for their first state final appearance since 2007, the Indians fell behind in the top of the first inning before an out had even been recorded. Catoctin’s Michaela Persinger singled and Allison Larochelle reached on a bunt base hit to open the contest, before Bryant, who entered the game with 13 home runs on the season, connected on a no-doubt shot that sailed over the left-field wall.
Two innings later, the Cougars produced a near-carbon copy of the same home run, as Persinger singled, Larochelle bunted for a hit and Bryant again deposited a no-out three-run blast to nearly the same spot as before.
Bryant’s second homer came one pitch after Larochelle stole second base, opening up the option to walk the Cougars’ three-hole hitter rather than challenge her.
“We tried to pitch around her. She’s a good hitter,” Evans said. “It’s tough for pitchers to put a girl on. I think they feel they can overcome it. It’s tough. It was just one pitch.”
As much as Bryant’s homers defined the game, the Indians’ inabil- ity to capitalize on a pair of basesloaded opportunities in both the first and third innings also proved fatal.
With two outs in the bottom of the first, junior Paige Yedinak laced a line drive that the right fielder just caught to help the Cougars escape a two-out bases-loaded jam. In the third, Yedinak bounced out with two away and runners again on every base.
“I want to say it’s really frustrating,” Indians senior Olivia Martin said. “We worked really hard at practice for situations like this. It’s just all about keeping your eye on the pitch every time.”
North East eventually broke through in the fifth inning when freshman Molly Dill singled to left and later scored on an error by the third baseman.
Freshman Morgan Sargent, who allowed both home runs, allowed two hits apiece to the top three hitters in the Cougars’ order, but did not allow a hit to the rest of the lineup. Dill came on as a reliever in the fifth inning and allowed three hits and a walk over three scoreless frames.
“This is a great group of girls, they worked hard all season long and it’s upsetting to go out like this,” Evans said. “I can’t really say it’s disappointing. It’s upsetting.”
Next spring, the Indians will return seven players from this year’s roster, including both pitchers.
“These girls have had a lot of heart all season long. They were challenged here in the postseason and prevailed up until here. Sometimes it works out that way,” Evans said. “Unfortunately, we lose three [players to graduation] but we have seven coming back. That says a lot for what’s ahead of us.”
Follow Jordan Schatz on Twitter: @Jordan_Whig
The Perryville softball team greets Carly White (20) at home plate after she hit a two-run home run during the first inning of the Panthers’ 15-0 victory in five innings over Pikesville in the 1A State semifinals at Bachman Park in Glen Burnie on Wednesday.
North East third baseman Olivia Martin applies a tag on Catoctin’s Michaela Persinger after she slid off the bag during the first inning of the Indians’ 6-1 loss to the Cougars in the 2A State Softball Semifinals at Bachman Park on Wednesday.