As impressive as Glenelg has been during the first half of the season, scoring early runs is one area that the No. 5 Gladiators have been working to improve.

Senior Leah Allen had this in mind as she rounded second base following a hit to right-center field during the first inning of Friday’s game against River Hill. A part of her wasn’t sure if she had enough time to leg out a triple, but with the cheers of the crowd and a green light from her third base coach, the Pennsylvania recruit suddenly set her sights on her first inside-the-park home run.

Allen’s score sparked her team to a familiar result, as the Gladiators defeated River Hill, 4-1, in Glenelg to remain undefeated.

“Once I turned second base, I kept moving but I was looking to see if my coach was going to put the brakes on at third. When he didn’t, I just said ‘Oh, I guess I’m going all the way home,” said Allen, who went 2-for-3 at the plate. “We haven’t been getting ahead early in games much, so even though it was one run, it was nice to have that cushion there.”

Colleen Regan helped keep the lead intact. The junior pitcher struck out three batters in six innings, pitching out of tough situations against the Hawks (8-2, 7-2 Howard County), who stranded four runners and were held to one hit during the last four innings.

“I knew I needed to make sure that if I miss my spots, to miss outside because I knew they were aggressive at the plate,” Regan said. “I wanted to throw first-pitch strikes that would help us stay ahead after Leah’s score.”

In the fourth inning, Faith Kujawa extended Glenelg’s advantage with an RBI double to right-center field that brought Amanda Bendix home. Kujawa then scored on a fielding error to make it 3-0.

Sara Mascone sliced into the deficit in the top of the sixth, blasting a solo home run over the left field fence that pulled River Hill within two. But the Gladiators (12-0, 9-0) squashed any potential for momentum by forcing an popup and a groundout to first to end the inning.

Following two more hits by Glenelg’s Brooke Redmond and Marissa Saglimbeni, Kujawa scored again from third base on a wild pitch for the final run.

With wins against Hammond and River Hill this week, the Gladiators extended their lead in the Howard County standings entering next week’s four-game slate before facing second-place Atholton on April 29.

“Getting timely hits is the key for us because usually, if we can get one or two runs early, it doesn’t take many for us to get the win,” Gladiators Coach Ray Gerstner said. “Today, Leah’s home run was the catalyst and if we can keep scoring early like that, we’ll be able to compete during this next tough stretch.”