La Plata softball loses a close one
Gives up 3 in sixth, falls to Northern in SMAC final
Samantha Clemons was well aware of the situation when she stepped to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning of the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference softball championship game on Tuesday afternoon. She also knew what she had to do.
“Two outs, bases loaded, there was definitely some pressure,” Clemons said of the moment, which was intensified by the fact that she and her Northern teammates were tied 1-1 with the visiting La Plata Warriors. “I just went up there and said, ‘Hit the ball.’ I needed to hit the ball in that situation. I needed to get it done and luckily I got it done.”
Clemons flared an 0-ball, 1-strike pitch to shallow left field to drive home Michaela Schaefer and Rachel Daugherty to put the Patriots in front 3-1. Northern went on to win the conference’s first championship game 4-1.
La Plata (12-6 overall) had taken advantage of an uncharacteristic Northern error in the top of the first to get on the board first when Erica Cox scored on Andie Kline’s double. But the Patriots (19-1) answered in the bottom half when Kassidy Cross singled, stole second, moved to third on a Natalie LaPlaca grounder and eventually scored on Schaefer’s two-out single.
Despite having opportunities, that was all Northern was able to score until the decisive sixth. Fortunately for the Pa- triots, Kaylee Cross was sharp in the circle, limiting the Warriors to just one hit and one walk after the first inning.
“She carried us. I thought that was the best she’s pitched all year,” Northern head coach Robert Earl Radford said of his pitcher, who struck out eight in the win. “We had some hits early and two errors early which is uncharacteristic, but they battled through, persevered and got it done. It was good to see.
“This game told us a lot. I was a little concerned prior to this game, but I feel a lot better after winning this game.”
Still tied at 1 in the bottom of the sixth, Schaefer led off with a single and then beat a fielder’s choice attempt to second on Micaela Cummings’ grounder to shortstop the following at-bat. Lauren Daugherty then sacrificed the runners to second and third before Marissa Wimmer was walked to load the bases.
La Plata pitcher Alyssa Bilodeau then struck out Gina Seifert to get the second out and move closer towards escaping the inning unscathed, but Clemons delivered her two-run hit to break the tie. Kassidy Cross followed with an RBI single of her own to add another insurance run for good measure.
Kassidy Cross and Schaefer each had two hits and an RBI, while Cummings also had two hits to pace the Patriots’ eight-hit attack. Kaylee Cross surrendered just two hits and a walk and navigated through three errors, including two in the first two innings, to lead the Patriots to the win.
La Plata’s Andie Kline forces out Northern’s Rachel Daugherty at second base during the fourth inning of the Tuesday afternoon’s SMAC softball championship game at Northern. Northern defeated La Plata 4-1.