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Maryland softball semifinals: Severna Park, Sherwood win 4A matchups

The Maryland softball state championships will be played Friday and Saturday. (Julia Nikhinson/For The Washington Post)

Before the state playoffs began, Severna Park Coach Meredith McAlister had a lengthy talk with her team, which entered the postseason with a near-.500 record and relatively low hopes for a state title bid.

“We preached a lot of growth and a lot of energy,” McAlister said. “They have to win six games.”

Just weeks later, the Falcons stand one game away from a state title.

In an extra-inning thriller Wednesday against South River, a team that had beaten it twice during the regular season, McAlister’s squad ousted its Anne Arundel county foe at Bachman Sports Complex in Glen Burnie, 13-12.

Severna Park will play Sherwood at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in College Park.

South River (20-5) came out sizzling in the opening frame, driving home four runs and another in the second. After hanging 17 runs in their previous matchup against their county foe, the Seahawks looked primed to roll over Severna Park again.

But spurred by a series of bunts in the third inning, the Falcons (13-10) soon got going offensively. A five-run outburst in the third knotted the game at five apiece, quieting South River’s dugout as the once-hushed Severna Park cheering section came to life.

The Seahawks and Falcons traded blows in the subsequent frames — another five-run Severna Park burst in the sixth inning gave the Falcons an 11-9 edge heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.

South River freshman Hanna Grambo brought the tying run to the plate with a rope single down the left field line before pitcher Brianna Ford lined a single to right field. A one-out groundout halved the Severna Park advantage, and a throwing error tied the back-and-forth slugfest at 11 heading into extra innings.

Severna Park scored in the top of the eighth, and South River matched.

In the ninth, Severna Park scored on a fielder’s choice to make it 13-12, and this time it retired the South River side. As the final groundout rolled into a Severna Park glove, the Falcons swarmed the field in jubilation.

“It’s a full 18 [players] to get it done,” McAlister said.

Sherwood returns to title game

It’s back to the 4A state championship game for the Warriors.

Pitcher Kat Hanson controlled the mound for Sherwood (17-2), throwing a two-hitter while striking out seven batters to propel her team to a comfortable 5-0 win over Catonsville.

The six-time state champion Warriors, who beat Churchill, 19-0, to stake their claim in the state semifinals, will look to take home their first state title since 2019.

Damascus suffers first loss

Damascus’s bid for an undefeated season fell short at the hands of Linganore, which snapped the Hornets’ 22-game winning streak with a 4-0 victory. It was an all-too familiar fate for the Swarmin’ Hornets (22-1), whose season ended in the state semifinals for the second consecutive season.

“Nothing to hang our heads about,” Coach Lindsay Burns told her team after the loss. “We were in the same boat last year and lost 1-0 in the same game, so it certainly stings to [lose] two years in a row, but we’ll be back.”

The usually potent Hornets were stifled by Linganore’s pitching staff. Damascus had just seven hits.

“The one thing that didn’t go our way that’s gone our way all season was the bats,” Burns said.

Calvert advances

Desperate to avenge its extra-innings loss in last year’s state championship, Calvert breezed past Walkersville, 11-0, to give itself another shot at a 2A title.

“My kids were just absolutely hungry,” Coach Lauren Robison said. “March 1 couldn’t have come soon enough for softball season to start, and once it did I feel like we just hit the ground running. … They just wanted to pick up where they left off and leave no stone unturned.”

Robison was a two-time state champion as a player at Calvert in the mid-2000s. Though her team’s quest to reclaim the crown fell short last season, the Cavaliers are using that as fuel as their next opportunity approaches.

“When you coach a bunch of girls that are as competitive as my kids are, it doesn’t take much other than just showing them a second-place medal,” Robison said. “We remembered what it felt like and just [know] that they want their names on a banner.”