As quickly as Kevin Elder saw his team come together at the Babe Ruth 16-and-under Softball World Series and play its best ball of the summer, he saw it fall apart at a time when there was no margin for error.
The Charles County all-stars, who won the Middle-Atlantic Regional championship, shut out each of their four round robin opponents by a combined score of 22-0. Then, the team promptly suffered one bad inning in each of its two games in the double-elimination tournament in Varina, Va., and was ousted Wednesday night.
On Tuesday, Charles County allowed four second-inning runs to the Southwest champion (New Orleans) and lost, 5-1. The next day, the New England champion (Norwalk, Conn.) broke a 1-1 tie with three runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Even though Charles County tied it in the next inning, it lost in the bottom of the seventh, 5-4.
"The one bad inning got us each time," said Elder, who has coached the team for the past two years and guided Charles County to its first trip to the World Series. "That's what Little League and Babe Ruth is all about, avoiding that one bad inning."
It was particularly startling for Charles County, which was so impressive in its first four games. Pitchers Amanda Hanson (St. Mary's Ryken) and Ashley Johnson (Westlake) combined to keep the opposition scoreless, while allowing just nine hits in the four round robin games.
Meantime, Charles County belted out 29 hits in those games, paced by La Plata juniors Kelsea Corrado and Shanae Smoot, who combined for nine hits and eight RBI.
But after sweeping through the round robin and finishing a day ahead of everyone else, Charles County lost some momentum when it had a day off before the start of the double-elimination tournament.
"If we would have been able to come right back with the emotional high, it might have been a good thing," Elder said.
Even though all but two players on the team would be eligible to compete in the 16-and-under age bracket next year, Elder said he is not sure whether the team will reassemble next summer. The Babe Ruth League provides only 12-and-under and 16-and-under tournaments.
"If Babe Ruth was to create an 18-and-under World Series, that would be our next step," Elder said. "We'll have to see."
Another Reed Commits
It wasn't until after Westlake's girls' basketball team lost in the Maryland 3A semifinals that Aaries Reed started to get nervous.
"I was so worried," she recalled feeling as her junior season ended. "I had to get going on recruiting, and I wasn't sure if I was going to get anything."
Reed quickly joined a new AAU team, and after a whirlwind summer, which included an offer from Morgan State, she visited the Baltimore school two weeks ago. On Wednesday, Reed called first-year coach Donald Beasley to accept the offer.
Reed is the first Southern Maryland basketball player -- boy or girl -- from the class of 2006 to accept a scholarship. She said she will sign a letter-of-intent during the November early signing period.
Reed said she was sold on the school during her visit.
"I walked into the gym and I just loved it," Reed said. "It's big. It's nice. It's the place for me."
She becomes the second Reed this month to commit to a college -- her brother Aaris accepted a football scholarship to North Carolina this month.
"Me and Aaris have been talking about this since the seventh grade," she said. "It's something we've dreamed about."