H-town soft­ball gets back where it started

The Calvert Recorder - - Sports - ANDY STATES

Hunt­ing­town’s soft­ball teams made it all look rather easy in the first years of the school’s ex­is­tence. The Hur­ri­canes won the Class 3A state cham­pi­onship in their first sea­son in the spring of 2005, and then fol­lowed up with state ti­tles in 2006 and 2007 for good mea­sure.

The re­al­ity was it wasn’t easy, and find­ing the way back to a fourth state cham­pi­onship took over a decade. But on May 26 Hunt­ing­town fi­nally fin­ished that jour­ney, de­feat­ing West­min­ster 5-0 in the 3A cham­pi­onship game.

Hunt­ing­town had reached the state fi­nal in each of the pre­vi­ous two sea­sons, but set­tled for a run­ner-up fin­ish on both oc­ca­sions. In the 2018 fi­nal the Hur­ri­canes con­trolled the ac­tion from the out­set, tak­ing a 3-0 lead in the third in­ning. That proved to be more than enough sup­port for pitcher Tori Fletcher, who al­lowed just two hits and struck out nine in the shutout vic­tory.

“We felt if we played our game no one, I don’t care who it is, could play with us,” Hunt­ing­town head coach Mike John­son said fol­low­ing the game. “That’s a very good team. West­min­ster, to get here, has to be a very good team. But from the time we came out of warmups we showed ev­ery­body we had one goal in mind and noth­ing was go­ing to get in the way.”

Hav­ing played in the state fi­nal each of the pre­vi­ous two sea­sons, the mo­ment did noth- ing to in­tim­i­date the Hur­ri­canes.

“Our whole thing this year was one game at a time. So we got here to­day and were like, ‘This doesn’t feel like state cham­pi­onship game. It’s just an­other game.’ It was just an­other thing we had to do,” said Hunt­ing­town’s Alexis Mann, who was 3 for 4 with a dou­ble in the state fi­nal. “It was re­ally easy to come and play our game. Eleven of our girls had prior ex­pe­ri­ence on this field. It was nice know­ing that eight of the nine starters tonight had played on this field be­fore.”

Hunt­ing­town was at its best in the post­sea­son, outscor­ing its op­po­nents 41-0 over five play­off games.

“I’m just so proud of this team,” John­son said. “They’ve worked since March 1 to be out here. This has been the goal, but we never looked past any­body. I think that’s what im­presses me more than any­thing. They’ve never looked past one team that we played. Ev­ery team that we played their fo­cus was win this game. Their fo­cus was one game at a time and they did it ev­ery sin­gle time we walked out onto the field.”

“It feels great, but it’s kind of bit­ter­sweet,” Fletcher added. “We have seven se­niors leav­ing. One of them is my catcher who’s been my catcher for three years and one is the third base­man and is my best friend. So it’s def­i­nitely bit­ter­sweet, but it feels great to fi­nally fin­ish it.”

FILE PHOTO BY MICHAEL REID

Hunt­ing­town’s soft­ball team won the Class 3A state cham­pi­onship in 2018. It was the pro­gram’s first state crown since 2007 and its fourth over­all.

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