Maryland softball: Blair turns back Magruder, advances to state semifinals

May 15

Blair senior pitcher Annie Pietanza couldn’t have timed her biggest hit of the game any better. She looked up at the darkening sky in the bottom of the fifth inning and turned to her team before she left the dugout in the Blazers’ 6-2 win against Magruder.

“Hey look, a storm’s coming,” she said before she grabbed her bat and the rain started. “It’s our storm.”

Then she hit a two-run double to secure the win and the 4A West region title.

The downpour — and the hits — had subsided by the time Pietanza got back to the dugout to wipe off her bat. Briana Villa’s single scored the last run of the game as the inning ended.

“It started raining as soon as we started to hit,” Villa added.

The two teams had spent about 90 minutes getting in extra warm-ups after a scheduling mix-up left the teams without umpires for the 4 p.m. start.

The Blazers (18-2) took the time to practice some of the basics that kept them undefeated until the beginning of May.

“We’ve been working on a lot of stuff that we’ve talked about all season— the basics, like blocking balls, gray areas, steals,” said Pietanza, who struck out seven.

Another priority was keeping focused, Villa added, especially with the game tied at 2 until the third inning, when a pitch tipped off the glove of the Magruder catcher to bring Andrea Brown home. Both teams wasted no time after their wait and brought in two runs each in the first inning.

“We had to stay mentally strong and relaxed and make sure to hit at our pitch,” Villa said.

The Blazers’ last and only region title came in 2011. Pietanza was part of that state semifinalist squad and credits players from the last three years that helped bring Blair to this level.

“The players from the past have prepared us for this, to be ready for states,” Pietanza said.

Magruder (15-3) staged its best threat in the top of the fifth when pitcher Fiona Johnson made it to third on an overthrown ball and a bunt from Fatima Seyed-Ali. But a pop-up by Cricket Lowe ended the inning with Johnson on third. The Colonels put men on the corners in the top of the seventh.

The Blazers will meet Chesapeake (16-6) in the state semifinals Tuesday at Bachman Park. The Cougars beat Leonardtown, 2-1, to advance with RBI singles from Brooke Baxter and Jenna Charron in the 4A East region final.. . .

Top-ranked Sherwood continued its quest for a third consecutive state title with a 13-5 win against Perry Hall for the 4A North title with two strikeouts from Meggie Dejter and a bevy of hits from Addie Ambruster, Julie Swarr and Nicole Stockinger. They will meet 4A South champion Bowie in the state semis. The Bulldogs defeated Laurel, 21-6. . . .

Defending 3A state champion Northern (22-2) won against La Plata, 6-2, for the 3A South region title. Jess Cummings struck out 14 and Micaela Cummings, Sarah Bennett and Samantha Gatton each had RBIs. The Patriots will play C.M. Wright, the 3A North winner.

Mount Hebron took a 3-1 win against Glenelg for the 3A East title and will face Linganore. In 2A South, McDonough won at home against Southern, 4-2, and will play Eastern Tech.

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