In­di­ans can’t over­come Bryant’s two homers

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ

jschatz@ce­cil­whig.com

— 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.

GLEN BURNIE

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

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JOR­DAN SCHATZ

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.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JOR­DAN SCHATZ

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.

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