On paper, the Southern Maryland Youth Organization Tigers look like underdogs. On the field, they're anything but.
The senior league softball team -- which hails from Pomfret, where there is a pool of 417 potential players -- captured its first District 7 title since 1994 with a 9-7 win over the Waldorf Nationals, a team selected from thousands of potential players.
"We always felt like we're the David," said Tigers Coach Wes Courtney, whose team improved to 27-0. "There's a huge difference."
The Tigers, however, played like Goliaths all season. And although Waldorf played them closer than any team has all year, Friday night at Hallowing Point Park was no exception.
SMYO scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning to open a 4-0 lead. Erin Ruest drove in two runs with a double over the right fielder's head. Petras and Tae Courtney also drove in runs that inning.
In the third inning with two outs and a Waldorf runner on second, Tigers catcher Mollie Gorney fielded a wild pitch off the backstop and threw out the base runner stealing third to kill the rally.
"It was totally on instinct," Gorney said. "I didn't even think about it."
But Waldorf was good for one final scare. Trailing, 9-4, in the top of the seventh inning, the Nationals rallied for three runs. Waldorf's Jessica Morris hit a deep triple to left field driving in two runs. Another run was scored on a force out.
Tigers pitcher Erica Bates then shut them down -- aided by shortstop Joanne Petras's diving catch to end the game.
"The girls have so much heart coming back," Waldorf Coach George Swanson said. "To lose it only by two runs is respectable."
When the game was over, the Tigers met for a team picture with their District 7 champion banners, and different coaches spoke to the team. But Coach Courtney wasn't off the hook. Jackie Gross soaked him with the water cooler at an unsuspecting moment.
Courtney's team now moves on to the Maryland state tournament; in 1994, Courtney took the team to the state finals. The Tigers may be primed for another state run -- Courtney said he could not remember the last time a team went undefeated for the entire season.
As of Friday, the time of the games and opponents were not announced.
Notes: Left fielder Tae Courtney, fighting the sun in her eyes, made five putouts. The Tigers made two errors, but their defense also made some key plays. . . . SMYO defeated Waldorf the previous Wednesday, 8-2, in the first round. The Nationals fought their way out of the loser's bracket, winning their next four games. Waldorf defeated three-time defending District 7 champ Hughesville, 13-11, in eight innings, in Thursday's elimination game. Katie Rybka pitched the game. . . . The District 7 Tournament was dedicated to Louis C. Zwick Sr., who died of cancer earlier this year. He was the district administrator from 1969 to 1999.
Waldorf Nationals 030 100 3 -- 7 9 3
SMYO Tigers (27-0) 413 012 x -- 9 11 2
Lutz, Braschler (4) and Herbert; Bates and Gorney.