Overwhelmed by the moment, Glen Burnie freshman Alyssa Allender collected herself for a minute before talking about the swing that lifted her team to a 4-1 win over Chesapeake in Friday’s Maryland 4A East region final.
The Gophers (15-6) trailed 1-0 in the fourth with two outs and two runners on base when Allender unleashed a left-handed golf swing on a low, inside pitch for a three-run home run that soared more than 200 feet over the right field fence in Pasadena.
“I just knew I had to hit the ball, not [think about] how hard I hit it,” Allender said. “I just had to make contact.”
After the game, Allender rubbed the temporary eye-black tattoos on her arms before she discussed the play. One arm was a canvas for a cross, and the other was marked with a five for senior captain Caitlyn Kirby’s jersey number.
“I wanted to play for something other than myself today,” Allender said. “She’s a senior. I just wanted to play for her.”
The freshman shortstop went 2 for 3 and anchored a nearly error-free Glen Burnie defense that forced Chesapeake (15-7) to squander scoring opportunities. The Cougars stranded two base runners in three separate innings.
“Unfortunately for us that’s been a reoccurring theme this season,” Chesapeake Coach Don Ellenberger said. “In years past we’ve had a little bit more clutch hitting. This year we didn’t have that, and that hurt us today.”
Kirby ended the fourth inning with a diving stop on a line drive to third base to kill a Chesapeake rally.
Glen Burnie junior pitcher Ali Moos did not register a strikeout until the 26th hitter she faced, but she allowed only three hits.
“Today was probably the best team win I’ve ever seen,” Moos said.
“There’s no weak spot in [Chesapeake’s] lineup. Obviously they’re going to have to hit it, and our defense is going to have to make the plays, and they did.”
The Cougars and the Gophers split the regular season series and finished with identical 12-4 records in Anne Arundel County, a league rife with parity.
Chesapeake boasts seven state titles and advanced to the Maryland 4A tournament finals in the past two years, but Glen Burnie will represent the county against Maryland 4A South region champion Eleanor Roosevelt (20-0) in the state semifinals on Tuesday at the Bachman Softball Complex.
Glen Burnie has won the state championship in three of four visits to the state semifinals. This is the furthest it has advanced since it won the title in 1998.
Roosevelt remains unbeaten
Three region finals took place Thursday. Eleanor Roosevelt, the undefeated Prince George’s 4A champ, ran through the Maryland 4A South region, defeating its first two opponents by 10 runs a piece before polishing off Bowie, 7-2.
Northwest (17-2) may have finished second to Clarksburg in the Montgomery 4A West regular season standings, but the Jaguars finished a season sweep of the Coyotes in a 5-4 Maryland 4A West final.
Defending Maryland 4A champion Sherwood (18-0) found its toughest test in the quarterfinal round of the Maryland 4A North Region tournament. After opening the tournament with 16-0 win over Paint Branch, Sherwood squeaked by Blake, 3-2, before toppling Westminster, 20-0, for its second straight region crown.
Sherwood needed a sacrifice fly by Nicole Stockinger with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh Wednesday to advance over Blake. Warriors Coach Pat Flanagan said she told Bengals ace Colleen Burkhardt that was the “finest” game she’d seen her pitch in four years of competition.
“I told her, ‘We’re lucky we got out of here with a win,’” Flanagan said Friday.
“I think being pushed . . . that’s good for the girls in preparation for the state semifinals and then hopefully the state final.”
Sherwood and Northwest will meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. in a state semifinal at Bachman Softball Complex.
Only one region remains to be determined in Maryland 3A competition. Howard County foes Mount Hebron and River Hill square off Saturday at 2 p.m. to determine the Maryland 3A East representative in the state tournament.
Northern (20-0) looks to add to an unprecedented streak in the state tournament. The Patriots have won the past five Maryland 3A state championships and took home the South region crown by defeating Southern Maryland Athletic Conference rival Chopticon, 8-0, Friday.
“We’re very ecstatic to be leading the region and going to states again,” Coach Robert Earl Radford said. “It was a very, very satisfying win.”
“Our experience has been when we get out of the region, we seem to be very well prepared. I think that speaks to the level of play in our league. We’re going to do what we always do.”
Damascus (16-3) was never tested in the Maryland 3A East region, beating opponents by a combined 19-1. It will meet Eastern Technical on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in a state semifinal.