Jun. 17—Walk it off, Huskies!
Patterson Mill, playing in its first-ever state semifinal softball game, did just that Wednesday in Bel Air and beat Clear Spring, 12-0, in six innings of a Class 1A state semifinal.
No. 1 seed Patterson Mill (22-0) will play second-seeded Allegany (13-0) for the 1A state title Friday at 2:30 p.m. at Bachman Sports Complex in Glen Burnie.
"It's a big moment for us, I'm really excited," senior Dakota Pitts said. "We've been wanting this all year."
Madison Knight, the Huskies junior phenom who is committed to Syracuse, was on her game in the pitcher's circle. She allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out 11 in the shutout. She also did damage with the bat, as her grand slam in the sixth inning ended the game.
"I thought I did a pretty good job of getting ahead of most of the batters," Knight said. "Maddie [Buher], our catcher, played and called a really good game and my curve ball was working really good today, so we really relied heavily on that. Once we got ahead, we could really throw whatever we wanted after that."
Clear Spring pitcher Chloe Hess, also a junior who's committed to Lehigh, was also tough, but for just two innings. A blister on the index finger of her throwing hand created some issues, but the Blazers also had a couple fundamental mistakes in the field.
The Huskies took advantage of both issues in the third, which was the last inning for Hess. Buher was hit by a pitch to start the inning then Hess struck out Knight. But Pitts (2-4) followed with a single and Caroline Michaels pushed a bunt well inside the first base line. Hess tried to cut the ball off but couldn't, which allowed Buher to alertly race around third to score the Huskies' first run.
With two runners in scoring position, Tara Caprinolo (2-4) hit a slow roller up the first base-line to score Pitts. Blazers first baseman Faith Moore fielded the ball and tagged Caprinolo with an empty glove. Caprinolo was called out, but Huskies coach Jeff Horton questioned the call.
The umpires reversed their decision and Caprinolo was ruled safe. Ella Laurentius added an RBI single soon after for a 3-0 lead.
Knight, meanwhile, seemed to get stronger with the lead. She retired the Blazers in order in the fourth before issuing a walk to begin the fifth. Then, she struck out the next three batters.
In the bottom of the fifth, Patterson Mill added to its lead against reliever Sarah Greenlee. Laurentius walked and was run for by Lexi Gresko, and Lily Hofmeister reached on an error as both runners scored.
Allie Cichocki singled and scored in the inning, as did Knight, who reached on a fielder's choice. The four runs pushed the Huskies lead to 7-0, but the best was yet to come.
The Blazers got a single from Hess to begin the sixth and Ally Weaver reached on an error. Knight, though, settled in and got a groundout, her 11th strikeout and a fly ball out to end the threat and preserve the shutout.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Huskies erupted for five runs.
Caprinolo singled and scored, as did Hofmeister, who walked for the third time. After Buher was hit by a pitch, Knight hit a abruptly ended the game with a walk-off grand slam.
Greenlee had been throwing a number of change-ups, but the last one was hit a long way.
"I always live by, don't let your last at-bat affect the next one. So, I had a short-term memory. I knew the pitcher was a change-up pitcher and she threw me change-ups all the time," Knight said. "I adjusted and I knew a change-up was coming."
Clear Spring coach Chris Weaver was disappointed but also realized beating Knight was going to be a tough task.
"We couldn't get anything going; I think we had a girl on third twice," Weaver said. "Maddie, she's a heck of a pitcher, man. She just hit her spots, kept us off balance and she did what she had to do. We just couldn't get anything going."