COLLEGE PARK — The same formula that’s worked for Bohemia Manor throughout the season was on full display Saturday in College Park.
Behind another dazzling pitching performance by Maddie Penta and a steady stream of offense, the Eagles marched past Sparrows Point in the 1A State Softball Championship and right into the Cecil County history books.
Penta, a junior, tied the MPSSAA state tournament record with 19 strikeouts and recorded her third no-hitter of the postseason and her teammates collected double-digit hits as Bo Manor shut out the Pointers 8-0 at University of Maryland to become the first local softball program to win three straight championships.
“It’s a very surreal feeling. It’s a really good feeling to be a part of this — something that’s never happened before,” said junior third baseman Carlee Ferguson, sporting three gold championship medals around her neck. “It’s something that not many people can be a part of, so to be a part of it is amazing.”
Since the arrival of Bo Manor’s junior class in 2017, including Penta, who verbally committed to continuing her playing career at SEC powerhouse Auburn University, the Eagles have lost just three games. Saturday’s victory marked the program’s sixth state crown.
“It’s very special for the program,” senior Morgan Mullin said. “This is my last year, I’m going to college now, but knowing I can come back home every time, and when I pass Bohemia Manor High School, I can say, ‘That’s a school where we won three times in a row.’”
Bo Manor’s latest championship win appeared to be the least stressful.
After hitting the leadoff batter with the first pitch of the game, Penta settled down to punch out the side in the opening frame. She went on to make easy work of the Pointers the rest of the way, recording all but two outs via strikeouts and allowing just two hit batsman and one free pass.
Twice, Sparrows Point (11-11) bunted to the left side, but the defense reacted each time with perfect throws to first base.
“Today, I just tried to do what I always do. I didn’t try to get too stressed and caught up in the fact it’s a state game. I knew my defense had my back, as they always do, and my offense would produce, as they always do. That’s what happened today and it made things very easy on the mound,” said Penta, also sporting three gold medals. “I couldn’t want anything else for my third championship game.”
The 19 strikeouts on Saturday tied Calvert’s Megan Elliott (2003), Hammond’s Stephanie Speierman (2007) and McDonough’s Melanie Mitchell (2009) for the most in a state tournament game in Maryland public school history. It came two years after Penta struck out 18 batters as a freshman in Bo Manor’s 5-0 win over Allegany in the 2017 state championship.
Her three no-hitters this postseason, including a 1-0 win over Patterson Mill in the section final and a 10-0, five-inning win over Perryville in the section semifinals, tied North Calvert’s Kelly Shipman (1994, 1995) and McDonough’s Clarissa Crowell (1996, 1997).
“I try to do my best, obviously, for the team and myself, but I don’t get caught up in all that stuff, really. I just try to pitch to the best of my abilities and help my team out any way I can,” Penta said.
Bo Manor scored twice to take the lead in the second inning. Morgan Koehler, who reached on a leadoff single, crossed the plate on a bases-loaded walk by Anna Wilson and Aubrey Heath later slid into home on a wild pitch. Alexis Bailey later jogged home for what would have been the third run on a deep fly out to center field by Mullin, but it was changed to a double play after umpires ruled she left third before the ball was caught.
Ferguson doubled and scored on Alexis Bolton’s single in the third inning to make it 3-0, and pinch hitter Alexis Hopper reached on a hit by pitch, moved to second on a bunt and crossed the plate on Mullin’s double to right to pad Bo Manor’s advantage in the fourth frame.
“There was a lot of coming back and regrouping, especially today. We kind of came on, fell off, came on and then finally broke it open,” Mullin said. “I think there was a lot of coming back to the dugout and thinking ‘the next at-bat, I have to wait for my pitch.’”
Mullin was at the heart of a four-run sixth inning, blasting a base-loaded triple into the right-center field gap to score Heath (single), Hopper (walk) and Wilson (error). She then crossed the plate one batter later on a single by Regan Goldsmith that chased Sparrows Point starter Karen Fritzges from the game.
“We saw the Sparrows Point pitcher for a few minutes at Bachman Park [during the state semifinals]. We knew she hit the corners and that she wasn’t overpowering. So, we had to make an approach at the plate. For two days, if you were a right-handed batter, you hit balls to right field. I didn’t want anybody opening up, and with the less miles-per-hour, I didn’t want people pulling off. You have to keep the shoulder in, so for two days, we tried to hit [to opposite field] to keep everything tight. It worked.”
Mullin, a senior, captured her first state championship after missing the last two seasons with injury. She earned All-County accolades as a freshman for a Bo Manor team that lost to eventual 2016 State Champion Perryville in the section final.
“I think it’s a great feeling. I love this team, they’re amazing girls on and off the field and we have a lot of chemistry going. Coming to a game like this with girls you love so much, there’s nothing better than that,” Mullin said. “I’m glad that I got to do it this year.”
Follow Jordan Schatz on Twitter: @Jordan_Whig