Finishing on top
Early offensive output more than enough
Top, La Plata players pile on top of one another after the final out of Monday’s 4-1 win over the Williamsport Wildcats of Washington County in the Class 2A state baseball championship game at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen. The victory clinched the Warriors’ first state title since 2008. Bottom, Friday at the University of Maryland’s Robert E. Taylor Stadium in College Park, the La Plata softball team defeated Catoctin of Frederick County 9-1 for the program’s first state title since 1998. For more on La Plata’s state titles,
COLLEGE PARK — Devin Ruble had a small conversation with herself as she stood at the plate with two runners on in the bottom of the first inning of the Class 2A state softball championship game Friday against Catoctin.
Whatever she told herself worked wonders as the sophomore crushed two doubles and drove in four runs to lead La Plata to a 9-1 win over the Cougars and the state championship at University of Maryland’s Robert E. Taylor Stadium.
“We worked really hard to get here and I’m really proud of how we played today,” La Plata senior shortstop Andie Kline said. “We played as a team and I couldn’t be any happier.”
“I’m glad the seniors got to do this in their last year and I’m glad I got to experience it with them,” said La Plata freshman infielder Kelsey Hanks, referring to 12th-graders Kline, Erica Cox, Ashlee Roberts
and Alyssa Bilodeau. “I feel really good, and my team is really excited.”
The championship was the third overall for the Warriors, and first since 1998. La Plata also won the crown in 1985.
“It’s crazy, it’s just awesome,” La Plata sophomore center fielder Hannah Kraft said. “I don’t know what to say.”
Hannah Kraft and Cox led off the game with backto-back walks and each moved up a base on a wild pitch. Ruble then had a conversation with herself.
“I was thinking ‘Just get it in play, just get it in play. If you could get it in play, that would be great but if you could go to right field that would be even better,’” said Ruble, a sophomore who was down in the count. “So I just tried to stay back because I have a tendency to pull [pitches] foul for some reason.”
Moments later, she drilled an offering from Catoctin starter Jessica Bryant for a two-run double to put the Warriors ahead, 2-0.
“Oh yeah, we needed to get up on them quick and fast,” Kline said, “and once we did that, I think that just gave us mojo for the game.”
“I think it was really important [to grab the quick lead] because once we start out really good we keep the pace the whole time,” Hanks said. “It’s much easier coming out hot and finishing up hot.”
La Plata added to its lead in the bottom of the third when Ruble uncorked a two-run double to right-center field.
“That was more of a placement [hit],” Ruble said. “I tried to get it to the right side and [Bryant] gave me an outside pitch so I could go to the right side. She was very good at hitting inside and hitting right on the letters plus she had some good movement too toward the outside.”
La Plata put the game away with a four-run fourth inning during which it sent nine batters to the plate. Kraft singled in a run and Kline walked with the bases loaded before Ava Krahling smoked a two-run double that chased Bryant.
“It gave me a lot of relief because the last few games I’ve been struggling hitting,” Krahling said. “And I knew I made my dad happy because he was screaming and stuff.”
The Warriors (17-6 overall) added their final run in the fifth when Cox led off with a double, went to third on Ruble’s groundout and scored on Kline’s groundout.
“It’s a little off your back because you can relax and breathe a little bit,” Bilodeau said of the early leads she was given to work with.
Meanwhile, Bilodeau was cruising and mowing down the Cougars. The right-hander retired 20 of 26 batters she faced, including the first eight of the game. She surrendered four hits, three of them singles, walked one and also struck out five.
“We didn’t know much about this team at all, which is a good thing because you don’t want to overthink everything,” Bilodeau said. “I just tried to keep them on their toes and off the plate and definitely not in the middle.”
“She was on. I knew from the first batter when I held my glove out and it literally went right into my glove,” said Ruble, the catcher. “It started in warmups, well except the first pitch in warmups. For some reason she just has a way of hitting high on the first pitch, but hey, she’s just warming up. But once a batter comes in it’s like a signal switches in her mind.”
Kraft added, “I’m so happy for Alyssa because she’s pitched so well all year.”
The Cougars (20-4), a Frederick County team which is a 20-time state qualifier that collected titles in 1986, 2006 and 2011, scored their only run on Bryant’s monster home run to left in the top of the fourth.
La Plata’s 1-2-3 hitters Kraft, Cox and Ruble were a combined 5 for 8 with five RBIs, three walks and eight runs scored.
“I guess we were just ready today,” Kraft said of the trio. “We all wanted to win it so that was great motivation to hit the ball.”
In the top of the seventh, Bilodeau caught leadoff batter Marlee Dinterman looking at a called third strike then blew a third strike past Raegan Smith. After a single by Ginna Morris, Bilodeau had two strikes on Lexie Ridenour, but Ridenour continued to work the count with balls and a few foul balls.
“I know, hey?,” Bilodeau said when asked about the anticipation. “Third out’s not done until the umpire says so so you just have to keep fighting as well. And she was fighting as well and not giving up, so I give her props for that.”
But a few moments later, Ridenour hit a tapper back to the pitcher and the throw set off a wild celebration.
“Oh my gosh yes [I was dying inside],” Hanks said. “There was a lot of anticipation and everything. Everyone just wanted to go run out and hug Alyssa because she was so great. And then I was just thinking, ‘We just won a championship.’”
The La Plata softball team celebrates its 2A state softball title following its 9-1 win over Catoctin in Friday’s Class 2A state championship game at the University of Maryland’s Robert E. Taylor Stadium in College Park.
La Plata’s Ashlee Roberts tries to beat out a bunt to first base in Friday’s Class 2A state championship game versus Catoctin at the University of Maryland’s Robert E. Taylor Stadium in College Park.
La Plata’s Erica Cox, left, and Andie Kline celebrate the team’s state softball championship, 9-1 win over Catoctin at the University of Maryland’s Robert E. Taylor Stadium in College Park on Friday.
La Plata’s Alyssa Bilodeau delivers a pitch during the Class 2A state final against Catoctin, a 9-1 win Friday at the University of Maryland’s Robert E. Taylor Stadium in College Park. The right-hander retired 20 of 26 batters she faced, including the first eight of the game. She surrendered four hits, three of them singles, walked one and also struck out five.