ELKTON — Havre de Grace prevailed in extra innings Monday to keep its season alive, forcing an “if game” later that evening in the District 5 Major Softball Tournament.
Once it took the field again less than an hour later, the Harford County squad made sure it had a far easier path to the championship.
Fourteen batters went to the plate as part of an 11-run first-inning as Havre de Grace jumped out to a significant lead and held on for a 13-3, four-inning victory over Perryville to capture the district crown at Elkton Little League.
“[Perryville] already had the wind out of their sails after the first game,” Havre de Grace manager JR Strong said. “When we came to the dugout, I told [my players], ‘Let’s put up a big number and don’t look back.’”
After Perryville took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, Havre de Grace responded by putting the first two batters of the game on-base via a walk. Third baseman Autumn Keyes then connected for a one-out, two-run single to center that gave Havre de Grace the lead for good.
The next 10 batters all reached base for Havre de Grace, with Carlie Hopps clubbing a two-run double down the third-base line, Emma Bowman plating two with a single to center and Ashley Kovacsics driving in a run with a triple to the left-field wall.
The third out was eventually recorded when a runner, attempting to score on Kovacsic’s three-bagger, failed to touch third base on her way to the plate.
“It feels good. Especially for the girls who have now won two in a row, like I did, it’s really awesome to be a part of the team and make it to states,” said Keyes, who finished the evening’s second game 3-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored. “We kind of had to think about how hard Perryville played [against us earlier in the tournament] and how hard we had to play back.”
Wall, who also pitched in the evening’s first contest, came on to pitch for Havre de Grace in the third inning of the “if game,” replacing starter Lillia Dalton. The reliever, who entered late due to a mounting inning count, then held Perryville scoreless in the third inning, before allowing just three runs in the fourth inning to secure the victory via the 10-run rule.
“I went out and told [Dalton] she did exactly what I needed her to do. I wasn’t even worried about the score because I knew we would score runs. I just needed her to get at least six outs,” Strong explained.
Havre de Grace also opened the scoring in the evening’s first game.
After a scoreless first inning, the Harford County squad climbed ahead in the second on an RBI single by Hopps. It made it 2-0 ann inning later after Kovacsics walked, went to third on a two-base error and scored on a bases-loaded walk by Dayley Veres.
Perryville tied the score in the bottom of the fifth after Madison Davis and Kamryn Marcinkevich both walked and later scored. However, after each team failed to score in the sixth, forcing extra innings, Havre de Grace broke it open with a three-run seventh.
Kovacsics reached on an error and later scored, Kinsey Mentzer delivered an RBI single and scored and Katie Burr also had a run-scoring hit, eventually crossing the plate on a wild pitch.
Wall then used a double play to escape the bottom of the seventh, secure a 5-2 victory, and force the “if game.”
“Winning two games in a row against a good team like Perryville, words can’t explain it,” Strong said. “I told them we got here that we had to get through the first game. We win this first game and then we’ll start worrying about the second game. That’s what they did.”
Havre de Grace had the more difficult path to the title after falling to Perryville, 15-9, in the winner’s bracket on Saturday.
“I’m kind of at a loss of words. It’s been a long couple of days,” Perryville head coach Josh Rebman said. “It’s been a great ride.”
Follow Jordan Schatz on Twitter: @Jordan_Whig