La Plata baseball, softball off to state finals
Gayon’s RBI hit is difference as La Plata wins 2A state semi in 8 innings
GLEN BURNIE — Alyssa Gayon admitted her pregame warmup before La Plata’s Class 2A state semifinal softball game against Eastern Tech was less than stellar. Her performance during the game was decidedly different.
Gayon’s one-out bloop single to shallow center field scored teammate Ava Krahling from second base to help La Plata slip past the Mavericks of Baltimore County 3-2 in eight innings at Bachman Sports Complex and move on to the state championship game.
The Warriors (16-6 overall) will face Catoctin of Frederick County in the state championship game at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the University of Maryland’s Robert E. Taylor Stadium in College Park. Catoctin defeated North East of Cecil County 6-1 in other 2A state semifinal.
“I’m just proud of them and so excited for all of them,” La Plata head coach Dave Krahling said. “Another game and we don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re going to soak this up. We need to stay true to what we’ve been doing. We’re going to take a day off and regather ourselves and get back on the practice field and work on our drills. Fundamentally we’re working hard on our defense and that’s what wins ballgames.”
La Plata has previously reached the state championship game in 1985 and 1998.
“Oh God, a lot of adrenaline here,” said La Plata starting pitcher Alyssa Bilodeau, who allowed seven hits and struck out 12. “We’ve played really hard for this and we wanted this so bad that we came out here and played the best we could and it paid off for us.”
Gayon said the Warriors must get the bats going in the final.
“I think we work pretty well together, but we need to be more consistent in our hitting because we [always seem to] hit in the first and
last innings,” she said.
It appeared La Plata was headed to the state final when it held a 2-0 lead going into the bottom of the seventh, but the Mavericks scratched out two runs to force extra innings and set the stage for Gayon’s heroics.
With the international tiebreaker in effect, Ava Krahling went to second base and, with one out, Gayon lifted a flare into shallow center field which dropped between three Mavericks and plated Krahling with the go-ahead run.
“I was just trying to get a base hit, something to drive in the run and I was really nervous that it was that high in the air,” said Gayon, a freshman outfielder. “But I felt really lucky when it dropped. I was really surprised.”
“The girl hit the ball pretty good the first time, so we had the center fielder back and [Gayon] connected pretty good,” Eastern Tech head coach Jack Meyers said. “[Center fielder Hannah Pfarr] dove for the ball and almost had it but that happens.”
Gayon was sporting an ear-toear grin, a far cry from her performance in the warmups.
“I was really nervous at first, especially because I wasn’t doing well in warmups,” she said. “That was making me really scared and when we came out here I was too anxious, but I hit a double in the first inning and that calmed me down a bit. I was more relaxed after that.”
Eastern Tech (20-2) failed to advance the runner after back-toback sacrifice bunt attempts were gloved by catcher Devin Ruble and Bilodeau blew a called third strike past Pfarr to seal the win.
“They fell back and forth [throughout the game], but the thing I’m most happy of them is they didn’t give up and that’s what means a lot to me,” Dave Krahling said. “They leaned on each other and since we lost that game to North Point [6-2 on April 22] they’ve leaned on each other and that’s all I can ask for. That’s what makes me proud as a coach.”
La Plata had an excellent opportunity to open the scoring when it loaded the bases in the top of the first on a leadoff double by Hannah Kraft and consecutive walks to Erica Cox and Ruble, but Mavericks pitcher Jodie Bronushas recorded a strikeout, pop out and groundout to end the inning.
“We left runners on, but what I liked was that they came out aggressive,” Krahling said, “and when you come out aggressive that’s what means a lot to me.”
“When you have runners on base you want to advance them. You definitely don’t want to let [teams] hang around,” Bilodeau said. “We struggled a bit there, but it was just the first inning.”
The Warriors opened the scoring in the second when Gayon stroked a leadoff double, went to third on Bilodeau’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Ashlee Roberts’ infield hit.
La Plata maintained its 1-0 lead as Bilodeau cruised through the Eastern Tech lineup. Bilodeau walked one, hit a batter and retired 16 of the first 20 batters she faced and eight straight — five by strikeout — in the middle innings.
“[I was] definitely keeping it off the plate,” she said. “I was going with the two pitches that were working the best, but after awhile I saw them chasing pitches so I stuck to that. And once they started hitting, I brought it back down low and in the zone.”
“She’s strong and they trust her and she trusts them and her defense,” Krahling said, “and as a team that’s what I strive for.”
The Warriors added to their lead with a two-out rally in the top of the seventh. Ruble smashed a two-base hit to left-center and scored on an error. Eastern Tech clawed back in the bottom of the frame to tie it on Sarah Heagy’s two-out, two-run single past short.
“We were trying to get to the pitcher,” Meyers said. “She has a nice little riseball and it’s tough because we don’t get to see that much during the year. We try to train for it but she threw well.”
Krahling and Bilodeau said there was no problem getting refocused for playing extra innings.
“No because I’ve always said there’s going to be a time when you’re up and a time when you’re down but don’t change the way you lean on each other,” Krahling said. “Stay focused the whole entire time because there’s 21 outs in a ballgame, there’s seven innings and they’re the same bats and balls. They don’t change anything.”
“We all wanted it really bad and we were working really hard for it,” Bilodeau said, “so we weren’t going to stop no matter what.”
La Plata’s softball team celebrates after sealing its 3-2, eight-inning win over the Eastern Tech Mavericks in the 2A state semifinals at Bachman Sports Complex in Glen Burnie on Wednesday afternoon.
La Plata’s Alyssa Bilodeau hurls a pitch during the Warriors’ 2A state semifinal against the Eastern Tech Mavericks at Bachman Sports Complex in Glen Burnie on Wednesday. Bilodeau struck out 12 in the Warriors’ 3-2, eight-inning win.