NORTH EAST – Three times during a rushed week of regional play, the North East softball team erased early deficits and came away victorious.
Friday afternoon, the Indian Rally Express came to its final stop as Section II champion Queen Anne’s broke through with two big innings and held off one last North East burst for an 8-4 victory and the 2A East regional championship trophy.
“We were a little late with starting our comeback this time,” admitted North East head coach Kim Evans. “These girls made a nice run. They’ve worked hard all year and they’ve got to hold their heads high.”
North East took a 1-0 lead after 3, but the Lions got run-scoring singles from Emily Gunther and starting pitcher Cameron Whiteford and a two-run double from Taylor Walls in the top of the fourth to go ahead for good.
Alesia Doctor relieved Morgan Sargent on the mound and stemmed the tide for a while, but an infield RBI single in the fifth by Belle Fields and three more runs crossing the plate in the top of the seventh put Queen Anne’s ahead 8-1 going into the final frame.
Whiteford went the distance for the Lions, striking out nine and keeping North East at bay for much of the contest.
“She was mixing up her pitchers more and keeping us off balance,” Evans said. “We hadn’t seen that before, so we had to make the adjustments, but we made them late.”
With two outs in the 7th, the Indians bravely put together a brief rally on run-scoring hits by Delaney McDilda and Jess Choplinsky, but that was all North East had left. Even with losing Choplinsky (UMBC bound) and Sargent to graduation, Evans is confident the return group of girls will be back in the same position next May.
“We have a lot of maturity and we’re bringing back four starting juniors along with three starting 9th graders, so they’re right there,” she said. “They’re going to remember what this feels like and they’ll work hard and continue that into next year.”