South County softball stands undefeated through six games, and the reason for the team’s success is no secret.
“Our pitching has been outstanding, and most of that has been Cara Martin,” South County Coach Gary Dillow said. “She’s been almost unhittable.”
As a freshman last season, Martin established herself as a dominant force in the circle, recording a 1.32 ERA and 222 strikeouts in 127 innings. After the Stallions’ run to the Virginia Class 6 state quarterfinals, Martin was named to the Virginia Class 6 all-state second team, the lone freshman to earn all-state honors.
A debut like that sets a high bar for an encore, but Martin is exceeding expectations for No. 5 South County.
She tossed six shutouts in 20 starts last season. She has nearly matched that already, with five shutouts in her five starts as a sophomore.
In back-to-back starts against Patriot District rivals Wednesday and Thursday, she struck out 33 batters — 17 in a 4-0 win against West Springfield and then 16 in a 1-0 win against Robinson the next day.
The scary part for opposing hitters? She could get even better.
Martin consistently throws in the low- to mid-60s, according to Dillow, already an impressive accomplishment for a high school pitcher. To take her game to the next level, she is developing a change-up to throw batters off the scent of her faster pitches.
“If she can add that, she’ll be devastating,” Dillow said.
1. Madison (5-0) Last ranked: 1
The Warhawks have started the season with five straight shutouts, including Saturday’s 10-0 win against Bishop O’Connell.
2. Severna Park (7-0) Last ranked: 2
Severna Park senior pitcher Kylie Dingess notched wins on back-to-back days with a 16-4 decision Wednesday at Southern followed by a 2-1 victory Thursday at Northeast.
3. Huntingtown (6-0) Last ranked: 3
Taylor Beach launched a two-run home run in Wednesday’s 7-2 win at Northern, part of a three-hit, five-RBI outing for the senior.
4. Stone Bridge (7-0) Last ranked: 5
The Bulldogs dominated in two games against fellow Loudoun County teams last week, trouncing Briar Woods, 17-1, and Potomac Falls, 22-1.
5. South County (6-0) Last ranked: NR
Emma Yates has three home runs in six games, including a solo shot to lift the Stallions to a 1-0 victory over Robinson on Thursday.
6. Chopticon (7-0) Last ranked: NR
The Braves scored eight unanswered runs in an 8-3 comeback win against Southern Maryland Athletic Conference rival Northern.
7. Damascus (8-0) Last ranked: NR
Swarmin’ Hornets senior pitcher Rachel Benden reached the 300-strikeout career milestone during a 12-strikeout outing April 1 in an 11-0 win at Blake.
8. Sherwood (6-0) Last ranked: NR
The Warriors have won every game by at least 10 runs.
9. McLean (5-1) Last ranked: 10
The Highlanders blanked previously unbeaten South Lakes on April 2 behind 10 strikeouts from junior pitcher Amanda Moore.
10. Potomac School (5-0) Last ranked: NR
Freshman Eva Butler recorded five hits and eight RBI in the Panthers’ two wins last week (10-2 against Paul VI and 15-5 at Georgetown Visitation).
Dropped out: No. 4 Woodgrove (6-2), No. 6 Chesapeake-AA (5-1), No. 7 Northwest (6-1), No. 8 Lake Braddock (6-2), No. 9 Bishop O’Connell (9-3)
On the bubble: Loudoun County (7-2), Riverside (9-2), Broad Run (7-2), La Plata (6-1)