Even after the high of the Calvert softball team’s extra-inning lead crashed into disappointment after a walk-off hit by Queen Anne’s to clinch the Maryland 2A state championship, the Cavaliers left the diamond as a team on the rise.

An erstwhile softball powerhouse, Calvert appeared in seven state finals and won six state titles from 1992 through 2006 but had since fallen into a state tournament drought. This season, a young team led by Coach Lauren Robison, who played on Calvert’s last championship team, surprised the state with a run to the title game.

So despite falling, 2-1, in eight innings to the No. 2 Lions (17-0) at Bachman Sports Complex in Glen Burnie, the No. 5 Cavaliers (10-2) remained upbeat.

“We’ll be back,” sophomore pitcher Emma DeBoer said after the game.

If they do make a return appearance in the next few seasons, DeBoer probably will be a big reason.

The pitcher had eight strikeouts and held Queen Anne’s scoreless in regulation. The game headed to extra innings tied 0-0.

In the top of the eighth, with a runner on second to start the frame, Calvert freshman Sadie Willis hit into a fielder’s choice, and the lead runner was thrown out at third. But the Cavaliers recovered to score Willis on a single by sophomore Megan Chroniger to take a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the inning, though, Queen Anne’s scored its lead runner on a pair of groundballs, and then senior Kamryn Brandt delivered a walk-off single.

“If our bats just got going a little sooner, I think that would have changed everything, but I couldn’t have a better team behind me,” DeBoer said.

The Cavaliers count nine underclassmen among their roster of 16, so they relied on senior leadership from catcher Shyra Jones and bench players Lainey Brinkerhoff and Bryleigh Mims to keep them steady.

Jones and DeBoer served the Lions’ hitters a diet of off-speed pitches to keep them off balance. Though Queen Anne’s loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth, DeBoer got a strikeout on three pitches to escape the jam.

DeBoer then delivered a two-out double in the top of the seventh, but the Cavaliers failed to get much traction against Queen Anne’s senior pitcher Cameron Whiteford, who struck out 14 en route to the Lions’ first state title.

Still, after the game, DeBoer took some time to savor the moment.

“You really don’t get the feeling you’ve made it until you’re actually here,” she said. “As we were driving into the park, that was when we looked around and said, ‘Wow, we really made it.’ ”

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