With such a proud standard to bear, the pressure mounted every time the Northern softball team took the field.

The class of 2013 had not lost a game since its freshman season. But rather than succumb to the pressure, the team’s seniors rose to the occasion, not letting the Patriots relinquish the No. 1 ranking.

Northern won its sixth straight Maryland public school championship, extended its win streak to 76 games and earned the No. 1 spot in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll.

Four-year starter Erin Adams said the Patriots paved the way on the practice field.

“Our coach works us a lot harder,” she said. “We get a lot more reps at practice to make us better. He works us to our full potential.”

On days Adams fielded so many groundballs she wanted to “die at the end of practice,” Adams said she knew the pain was for a purpose.

“All of us like to be pushed,” she said.

Coach Robert Earl Radford said his 2011 squad had the most powerful lineup, but the 2013 team that allowed only one run all season boasted the best defense he’s coached.

Junior pitcher Jess Cummings was dominant, but she could not have compiled a 0.00 ERA without help from a defense that converted relentless practice into flawless game-day performance.

Northern graduates its entire infield, but Radford said his program is always thinking ahead.

“We kind of look down the road long term while we tried to manage this season and get this 2013 class the championship they so much wanted,” he said.

“We also spent the season working on finding a replacement for the next year when we start the season. Hopefully we won’t skip a beat.”

The Post Top 10

O’Connell only lost to Northern. . . . Sherwood completed it’s second straight undefeated season with a second Maryland 4A title. . . . Woodgrove advanced to the Virginia AA championship game for the third straight year since inception.

1. Northern (23-0) LW: 1

2. O’Connell (30-1) LW: 2

3. Sherwood (21-0) LW: 3

4. Stone Bridge (28-2) LW: 4

5. Woodgrove (26-3) LW: 7

6. South County (20-2) LW: 6

7. National Cathedral (15-1) LW: 9

8. Madison (19-7) LW: not ranked

9. Glen Burnie (16-7) LW: not ranked

10. Glenelg (20-1) LW: 5

Also considered: River Hill (17-5), St. Mary’s Ryken (19-5), Lake Braddock (19-2)

Standings: Softball | Baseball

Statistical leaders: Softball | Baseball