Severna Park senior pitcher Clare Hofstedt couldn’t command her curveball while warming up prior to the Falcons’ first game Saturday in the Cavalier Classic softball tournament. That, it seemed, would be the pitch that would betray her against No. 7 Glenelg.
But Hofstedt allowed five hits and guided Severna Park to a 3-1 upset win over the Gladiators in eight innings. Afterward, she noted her curveball turned out to be one of her most effective pitches. Severna Park (6-2) claimed the tournament title by winning the third tiebreaker (total runs scored on the day) over No. 1 Northern (7-0).
All six pitches in Hofstedt’s repertoire — fastball, change-up, drop, rise, screwball and curveball — fell in line Saturday, and on the days when that’s the case, opposing batters aren’t left with many appealing options.
“I just like to play with the batters more,” said Hofstedt, who next season will play at Division III Washington College on the Eastern Shore. “Like, not give them the same pitch twice, or if they’re falling for it, I just work them around.”
Severna Park entered the bottom of the seventh inning needing to keep Glenelg (4-3) off the scoreboard in order to push the game into extra innings.
Hofstedt fed a stream of fastballs to Glenelg first baseman Faith Kujawa, the leadoff batter, and then concluded a nine-pitch at-bat with a screwball that Kujawa popped to left field for an out.
“If anything, [Hofstedt] did a good job of forcing us to look at balls a little bit up, and right now, if we’re struggling with anything, we’re getting the ball in the air too much,” Glenelg Coach Dean Sheridan said. “We’re not hitting the ball on the ground enough and forcing them to make plays. That’s hurt us in the last two games because good teams are going to catch it.”
Later in the inning, with two outs and a runner on third, Glenelg second baseman Nykita Vernot singled to left field, but Severna Park left fielder Claire Hanratty threw out the runner at home. Sheridan said he thought Severna Park catcher Jess Harden had dropped the ball. The explanation he received from the umpire was that the Glenelg runner never touched the plate and that Harden recovered the ball to make the tag.
Severna Park scored two runs in the eighth and Hofstedt shut down Glenelg in bottom half to secure the win. Hofstedt also pitched the first six innings of Severna Park’s 11-4 win over Urbana (4-5). She allowed seven hits, two walks and two runs, while striking out six.
“They don’t always work, all of them,” Severna Park Coach Meredith McAlister said of Hofstedt’s pitches. “You have days when you can’t throw a couple of them, but today she threw everything really well and hit her spots really well.”