It’s state title weekend in Maryland, with trophies earned in track and field, tennis and softball.
NORTHWEST 8, SHERWOOD 4
Amber Yuille’s celebrations grew a bit more colorful as each inning ended.
At the end of the fourth, Northwest’s freshman pitcher got a swinging strikeout, hopped into the air and pumped her first once.
At the end of the fifth, another swinging punchout led Yuille to hop twice, onto her right foot and then her left, before bouncing into the dugout.
At the end of the sixth, she caught a batter looking and danced into the waiting arms of first baseman Kaylah Qassis.
That left one more inning separating No. 6 Northwest from the first state softball title in school history. So when Yuille got Sherwood’s Christi Mathis to fly out to left field, punctuating the Jaguars’ 8-4 win over the Warriors on Saturday, she ran toward home plate and was tackled by catcher Alex Bowen.
It was the first time in six springs Sherwood didn’t finish as Maryland’s 4A champion.
Northwest scored five runs in the bottom of the first inning in College Park, a total the Warriors never reached.
Yuille gave up four runs on seven hits and blanked No. 5 Sherwood in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings as the Jaguars (20-2) built a lead for her to protect.
“It’s just so fun out here, and we just wanted this so badly,” Yuille said. “That’s why I couldn’t contain my emotions as the game went on. I had to let it out.”
On March 25, Sherwood carried a 105-game win streak into a home meeting with Northwest.
The Jaguars, undeterred by the Warriors’ sustained dominance, left that evening with a 9-5 win and a belief that they could snap two Sherwood streaks in one season. Doing so became a team rallying cry.
“From March 1 on we just always said it, ‘Beat Sherwood. Beat Sherwood,’ ” Northwest Coach Mike Horton said. “I didn’t want these girls to be intimidated by the allure of Sherwood and all success. And we knew we’d have to go through them twice to win it all.”
That is what they did Saturday, using a first-inning rally as a springboard to what no other Northwest softball team had accomplished.
Sherwood (18-2) pushed ahead with two runs in the top of the first, but the Jaguars immediately threw a counter punch.
Their first three batters reached base in the bottom of the inning, and Emily Wiley’s tworun single helped hang five on the scoreboard.
From there, Yuille and the fielders behind her kept the Warriors at a safe distance. The inits nings started to pass quickly. Runs became harder to come by. Yuille found a rhythm — with her pitches and fist pumps — and in time her celebration included the whole team.
“How could you not get excited?” Yuille said. “I mean, we won it all.”
Hannah St. Laurent walks off the field as Northwest exults. “I didn’t want these girls to be intimidated,” Jaguars Coach Mike Horton said.