Fin­ish­ing on top

Early of­fen­sive out­put more than enough

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By MICHAEL REID mreid@somd­news.com

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.’”

PHO­TOS BY ROB WORMAN AND MICHAEL REID

STAFF PHOTO BY MICHAEL REID

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.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY MICHAEL REID

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.

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