Okay, so the Sparrows Point softball team isn’t quite ready to compete in the NCAA’s Southeastern Conference.
Two-time defending state champion Bohemia Manor and its Auburn-bound pitcher Madison Penta defeated Sparrows Point 8-0 in the Class 1A state championship game on Saturday at the University of Maryland.
Penta tied a state record by striking out 19 Pointers and also threw a no-hitter. She hit more batters (two) than she gave up hits. The only other Sparrows Point player to each base did so by being walked.
The only two Pointers outs that weren’t by strikeout came on bunts.
But despite being dominated at the plate, Sparrows Point only grudgingly gave up runs and avoided an early end to the game by the 10-run rule.
Bo Manor scored twice to take the lead in the second inning, on a bases-loaded walk and a wild pitch.
The Eagles made it 4-0 in the third inning with a double, single, a hit batter, a sacrifice bunt and another double.
A four-run sixth inning highlighted by a bases-loaded triple gave Bohemia Manor an 8-0 lead essentially clinched its third straight state title.
Considering Sparrows Point (11-11) entered the postseason with a 6-10 record and having lost six of its last seven games, reaching the state championship game for the third time since 2014 was an achievement.
The Pointers rallied to defeat Lackey (13-8) in the state semifinals 5-4 on May 21 at Bachman Park in Glen Burnie.
Sparrows Point trailed 2-1 in the sixth inning when Megan Hamp lofted a two-run home run to left-center.
The ball looked like a pop-up as it came off of Hamp’s bat, then kept sailing and sailing ...
“I thought it was going to be an out,” Hamp said. “It didn’t feel like it had the power it usually has. As I rounded first, I realized it was over the fence.”
The home run came with two strikes and Samantha Gamble on second base.
“It was an inside pitch, and I’m surprised I hit it,” Hamp said. “I knew it would be a strike, so I had to swing.”
Rachel Blankenship hit a two-run home run in the top of the seventh with one out to extend Sparrows Point’s lead to 5-2.
Sarah Jensen was on base after being walked.
“It felt normal, didn’t feel like [her previous home runs],” Blankenship said. “I just wanted to put the ball in play.”
Like Hamp’s hit, Blankenship’s home run was a high fly ball to deep left-center that just kept drifting until it landed on the other side of the fence.
“I got to first base and [coach Ron Peterson] told me to keep going. Then I saw the umpire spinning his fingers to indicate a home run,” Blankenship said.
Those two runs turned out to be critical.
In the bottom of the seventh, Lackey hit a pair of one-out singles to put runners on first and third.
One run scored on a throwing error that left runners on second and third with one out. A groundout to second made it 5-4 and put the tying run on third with two outs.
A ground ball to shortstop Sydney Monaldi ended the game and returned Sparrows Point to the state championship game for the fourth time and the first time since 2015.
The key moment of the game came back in the fourth inning.
Sparrows Point tied the score at 1-1 in the top of the inning as Alyssa Shiflett scored on Ava Johnson’s infield single, but Lackey came right back to take a 2-1 lead and had the bases loaded with no outs.
But the Pointers got out of the inning without allowing another run. Samantha Gamble snagged a fly ball to shallow center, a grounder back to pitcher Karen Fritzges became an out at the plate, and a popup to Monaldi ended the inning.
“That’s got to be the key to the win right there,” Sparrows Point coach Duke Vickery said. “Getting two home runs on two-strike counts, that’s pretty special, too. It was a special win for me, special for the team.”
The first nine Sparrows Point batters in the game went down in order before Gamble led off the fourth with a bunt single.
“I wanted to let all nine batters swing away before we started playing small ball,” Vickery said. “We got the small ball game going, then ended up winning with the long ball.”