Successful season ends in states for Tri-City
CAMBRIDGE — The Tri-City Senior League softball allstars impressive 2016 season concluded with the District 6 championship and a berth in the Maryland state tournament.
Though the team fell in consecutive games at states — 7-3 at Delmar and 5-2 to Hughesville — Tri-City finished the season 15-3.
Head coach Clark Harrison credits ace pitcher Brooke Morton for the team’s successful season.
“Brooke is a big reason we won the District 6 championship and advanced to states,” he said. “She has been outstanding for us.”
Morton pitched much of the season and won all three starts in the District 6 tournament.
On June 2, Morton and Paige Phillips combined to twirl a no-hitter, Morton striking out 11 in four innings, Phillips fanning two in the fifth to close out the 12-0 victory over Whitten Insurance of Cambridge.
On June 6 and 7, Tri-City improved to 9-0 with wins against Easton. In both games, Brooke Morton got the win, going five innings and striking out eight each time. Phillips closed the second win, fanning two in two frames.
Brooke Harding’s single and triple paced Tri-City on June 6. Maggie Mellhammer and Meredith Bell each had two singles. Morton, Anna Hubbard, and Phillips added base-knocks.
Harding had two doubles and a triple in the June 7 victory. Mellhammer chipped in a double and single. Morton doubled, while Phillips, Bell, Hubbard, and Jenna Usilton collected base hits.
On June 29, Tri-City used a big fourth inning to earned a trip to the District 6 championship game with a 11-1 victory over Cambridge.
Brooke Morton, who lost her shutout bid with two outs in the fifth inning, threw a five-hitter with six strikeouts and one walk.
“I had my fastball working the best tonight,” said Morton, who recorded at least one strikeout in every inning. “I could throw that pretty good and they weren’t hitting it very well.”
Tri-City blew it open in the fourth.
Bell and Harding each walked. Morton’s base hit plated Bell to make it 3-0, moving Harding to third. Morton swiped second without drawing a throw and Meilhammer walked to load the bases. Harding scored, and the two trail runners advanced one base on a wild pitch.
Anna Hubbard’s base hit scored Morton and Meilhammer. Hubbard made third on the throw home. Hits by Phillips and Jenna Usilton kept the rally going. Phillips, Katie Smith, and Usilton, along with Hubbard, would score, as Tri-City pushed its lead to 10-0.
In the championship game on July 2, Tri-City pounded out 16 hits on their way to a 22-10 victory.
After its first two batters were retired in the top of the first, Tri-City got the next 10 hitters on base, scoring nine of them. Morton drove in two with a triple to right field, and Phillips hit an inside-thepark grand slam her second time up in the opening frame.
Tri-City added four runs in the top of the second for a 13-0 lead, with Marissa Mills, Phillips, and Usilton each notching an RBI.
Tri-City added nine more runs for a 22-2 lead in the top of the third. Morton (four runs) singled home a run and Harding plated two with a double off the fence. Mills, Hubbard, and Meilhammer (triple) each had RBI hits as well.
In Saturday’s state tournament opening round game in Cambridge, the Tri-City allstars mounted several challenges against Delmar, but timely fielding by Delmar halted a comeback, as TriCity fell, 7-3.
“We are a hitting ball club,” Harrison said. “We just didn’t get the hits we needed with runners in scoring position. A couple hits here and there and it is a different ball game. But this team has a lot of heart and doesn’t give up.”
Trailing 6-3 in the bottom of the sixth, Mills and Hubbard each singled to put runners at first and second, but Delmar pitcher Lauren Smith got a strikeout to end the inning.
Delmar increased the lead to 7-3 in the seventh after an outfield error, but with the top of the lineup coming up, Harrison knew the team still had a good shot.
Leadoff hitter Phillips singled to start a rally, but the comeback all but ended on the next pitch. Lauren Smith delivered to Usilton, who ripped a grounder up the middle, but Lauren Smith snatched the hard shot and fired to second to start a 1-63 double play. After a walk, Lauren Smith induced a flyout to end the game.
“We scored 10 runs with two outs and no one on the other day,” Harrison said. “With this team, we always have a shot. We put good swings on the ball but Delmar, give them credit, made the big plays on defense, and we came up short.”
Delmar opened the scoring in the top of the first when Catherine Smith (4 for 4) belted an RBI triple; she later scored on a throwing error to make it 2-0. Morton induced two grounders, and got help from catcher Bell, who picked off a runner at third to end the inning.
Bell (2 for 2) helped her pitcher at the plate in the bottom of the first when she smoked a two-run single to left to tie the game, 2-2.
“Meredith has been outstanding for us all year,” Harrison said. “She works great with Brooke behind the plate. Meredith also has been big hitting, and she showed it today by getting on base four times.”
In the third, Catherine Smith led off with a double, and scored on a single by Olivia Welch for a 3-2 Delmar lead. A double by Grace White put runners at second and third. Lauren Smith plated Welch with a sacrifice fly to right for a 4-2 lead. Morton ended the remaining threat with two strikeouts.
Morton helped her cause in the bottom of the third.
A single by Usilton, a walk by Bell followed by a wild pitch put runners on second and third with one out. Morton’s grounder scored Usilton on the fielder’s choice to make it 4-3.
Delmar increased its lead in the fourth to 6-3. Morton also kept Delmar off the scoreboard in the fifth and sixth innings. She went the distance, giving up 10 hits, seven runs (four earned) and struck out five.
“Delmar is a really good hitting ball club, but Brooke kept them from having huge innings,” Harrison added. “We didn’t help her in the field with a couple balls hit today. Brooke kept digging and gave us a chance to win.
“I’m proud to coach this team,” he said. “They never, ever give up. They put together an outstanding season. They are champions.”
Tri-City’s Meredith Bell rips a two-run single to left to tie the score at 2-2 against Delmar Saturday in the state tournament.
Tri-City ace Brooke Morton picked up another win Friday, leading her team to the District 6 Championship.
Tri-City shortstop Paige Phillips fires to first for an out against Delmar Saturday in the state tournament.