Sherwood didn’t play its biggest games of 2013 until the end of an undefeated season. The Warriors’ closest game was a 3-2 win against Blake in the 4A North region semifinal. They finally met top county competition Northwest in the state semifinal, where they advanced to their second consecutive 4A title with a 6-2 win.
This year, the Warriors got a shot at the Jaguars earlier than usual — on April 5 — and managed to dominate Northwest, 10-2, despite the loss of powerful hitters from last year’s graduating class.
“Last year I know we had a really powerful offense and that’s what really helped us. We were able to win, 5-0, in state and it gave me a lot of cushion and a lot of confidence,” said pitcher and 2013 first team All-Met Meggie Dejter, who struck out nine in Saturday’s game.
“We lost a couple of our really good hitters, and we’re good and solid this year, but there’s not as much power. It makes it a little harder on defense, but it’s good to challenge us.”
It hasn’t seemed to hold the Warriors back yet. They had outscored opponents 46-3 in four games by this time last year. Entering Wednesday’s game against Paint Branch they have scored 55 runs and allowed just two in five games.
Nicole Stockinger, the only underclassman on last year’s first-team All-Met roster, returns after a record-tying season of 12 home runs in 21 games. Stockinger’s verbal commitment to Towson at the beginning of the year ensures that two of the best players in the state will continue to compete together after three years of high school and travel teams. Dejter signed with the Tigers in December after an earlier verbal commitment to Villanova.
“She’s one of the most talented players in the state, and it’s just been watching her get better and better every year,” Dejter said. “Everyone who comes and watches sees how swift and talented she is.”
The most competitive county games on the Warriors’ schedule will likely be Magruder (6-0) and Blair (5-0). The Colonels beat Springbrook, 13-0, three days after Sherwood shut out the Blue Devils, 10-0.
“It motivates us that much more if we know teams are coming in to get us,” Dejter said of the Warriors’ 47-game win streak. “We work harder to minimize the chances of that.”
This biggest change in Warriors softball this season came with retirement of 17-year Coach Pat Flanagan. But replacement Ashley Barber-Strunk, former junior varsity coach, was a familiar face to even the four-year varsity players and has made the transition to varsity coach with ease, Dejter said.
At February tryouts, Battlefield 10th year Coach Joe Schelzo was forced to keep four freshmen on junior varsity. It wasn’t because the girls weren’t talented — rather, he was already bringing on three freshmen to the 2014 varsity team.
Cisler and Rosenthal are a small part of a dynamic Bobcats batting order that registered 21 runs in a season-opening shutout win over Robinson March 21. No. 9 Battlefield has scored 20 or more runs twice this season and outscored opponents 82-17 in six games.
“We just have a lot of talented girls, and we put in 100 percent effort all the time,” junior infielder Alexis Champion said.
Even with just three seniors and two juniors on the 13-player squad, Champion, who has a team-high 15 RBI with three home runs, said the transition has been easy. And Schelzo said this is the deepest team he’s had since 2006.
“We spent a lot of time in the batting cage with the amount of postponements we had early on,” Schelzo said. “If there was one thing we prepped well, it was our hitting.”
Schelzo said sophomore third baseman/catcher Stephanie Henke, who is hitting .917 through six games, has shown a lot of improvement this season.
“I’ve been seeing the ball a lot better and I’ve been a lot picker at the plate,” Hanke said. “I’m a smarter hitter.”
The Bobcats were 13-9 last season and are on pace to easily surpass that record with one game remaining before they head to spring break.
“We have to continue to work together in practice, because it will pay off in the end,” Hanke said.
Sherwoood took down last year’s state semifinal opponent, Northwest, 10-2. . . . Lake Braddock has allowed just one run this season behind standout pitching from senior Ashley Flesch and junior Amanda Hendrix . . . . Madison sophomore Katie Vannicola struck out 10 batters in the Warhawks’ 8-3 win over McLean Tuesday. . . . Northern won against Thomas Stone, 13-3.
1. Sherwood 5-0 LW: 1
2. Lake Braddock 4-0 LW: 2
3. Madison 7-0 LW: 5
4. Northern 6-1 LW: 3
5. McLean 4-1 LW: NR
6. O’Connell 4-2 LW: 4
7. South County 4-0 LW: 7
8. St. Mary’s Ryken 4-1 LW: 9
9. Battlefield 6-0 LW: 10
10. Woodgrove 6-1 LW: 6
Records through Tuesday.