Maryland 3A softball: Northern keeps cool en route to sixth straight state championship

No. 1 Northern felt at home at Robert E. Taylor Stadium at the University of Maryland on Saturday. In the Maryland 3A state final, the Patriots played with their signature deliberate calm and rose to the occasion with three sacrifice scoring plays in a 3-0 win over Baltimore school Eastern Tech.

The Patriots (23-0) broke their own Maryland public school records for consecutive state championships and wins, capturing their sixth straight crown — and 10th overall — in their 76th victory without a loss.

Junior pitcher Jess Cummings struck out 12, held the Mavericks (21-1) to two hits and finished the season with a 0.00 ERA. She is only the fifth public school player to accomplish that feat.

“I don’t think it ever gets easier, but I think that we’re just at a point where we all trust each other,” Cummings said.

“We knew we were getting the job done. There was absolutely no doubt in our minds.”

Senior Julie Keleti personified her team’s confidence with daring base running in the third inning. After reaching base on a single, she rounded second and beat the tag at third on a teammate’s grounder.

Catcher Kristina Lozupone lifted a deep flyball to send her home on the sacrifice. Designated player Sarah Bennett went 2 for 2 with a sacrifice fly that brought home Kirstie Schaefer in the sixth, and senior third baseman Erin Adams scored freshman Kassidy Cross with a flyout in the first.

“We’re all family . . . we have great chemistry,” Adams said. “When we stepped on the field, we knew we were just going to have fun, just let go.”

Eastern Tech could not capitalize in the windows of opportunity that cracked open against Cummings. Brooke Samios-Uy started the game by roping a double, but she was stranded after Cummings induced a fouled bunt that was caught and struck out two.

Cummings retired the side in order four times. Eastern Tech freshman Allison Meyers walked in the fifth and reached scoring position on a bunt, but she was stranded.

Northern senior Kirstie Schaefer converted a sprinting catch on a flyball to deep right-center field to end the inning, a tough play the error-free Patriots defense made look routine.

“I give the kids a lot of credit,” Northern Coach Robert Earl Radford said. “All these streaks, all the rankings and the pressure, they just let it roll off their backs.

“It’s just another game.”

 
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