Northern sophomore Micaela Cummings knew the pitch she wanted when she stepped to the plate with a runner on third and the game tied against C. Milton Wright. Cummings desired a pitch inside, and when she got it she put her bat to it.
Cummings laced a liner to the Mustangs’ shortstop, and the ball bounced out of the fielder’s glove and allowed Kassidy Cross to score the winning run as the Patriots won, 3-2, at the Bachman Sports Complex in Glen Burnie. Northern will meet Linganore in the 3A final Saturday at the University of Maryland.
“I needed to get it done, I needed to do it for my team,” Cummings said. “All the energy around me definitely helped me.”
Before Cummings stepped into the batter’s box, older sister Jess told her she was the best hitter on the diamond.
Cummings spent last season on junior varsity, but she was well aware of Northern’s late-inning history. Last season, the Patriots used a walk-off hit in the seventh inning in the state semifinals en route to their sixth straight state title.
“Last year I had six seniors on the field, and this year I have five sophomores,” Northern Coach Robert Earl Radford said. “That’s the difference. The sophomores played well, but we were tight.”
But after the second, the Patriots’ offense went dormant. Then in the top of the fourth, the Mustangs’ Jenny Lynch smacked a two-run double to knot the game.
“We were throwing rise, curve and change to try and keep them off balance,” Jess Cummings said. “We were working with the strike zone we were given and mixed pitches as much as we could with that.”
In the seventh, Cross led off the inning with a hard-hit ball to right that dropped in for a hit. Two batters later, she had reached third and the sophomore Cummings was set to bat.
Cummings won’t go down in the stat sheet as having the game-winning RBI, but her timely hitting lifted the Patriots (22-2) back to College Park with a shot at a seventh straight Maryland 3A state title.
“We have to do the little things and go after it,” Jess Cummings said. “Everyone has the same drive and everyone has the same goal and we know how hard we worked to get here.
On the field just steps away from the contest between Northern vs. C. Milton Wright, Mount Hebron ran into a strong Linganore team from Frederick County. The Vikings lost, 10-3, against a stout defense that constantly robbed Mount Hebron of surefire hits.
The Vikings trailed 2-0 after one inning, but after sophomore Evvie Buehlman opened the second with back-to-back strikeouts it looked like Mount Hebron had adjusted. The Lancers, though, tacked on more in opening up a 6-0 advantage through four innings.
Middle-of-the-order hitters Alli Bluhm and Rylee Kinsella each drove in a run for Mount Hebron (16-4).
“I think we were a little nervous, and we certainly didn’t bring our ‘A’ game,” Mount Hebron Coach Chuck Struhar said. “We’re a better softball team than that. They are very, very good, and to beat a team like that you have to bring your ‘A’ game.”
McDonough fell it is first state semifinal appearance since 2012 in a 23-1 loss to Eastern Tech in the 2A state semifinals. The Rams (16-5) got on the board in the second with a double to cente rfield from Erin Parlett. She reached third on an infield error and scored on a shot to the right by Eliza Shontz. The Mavericks took a nine-run lead after two innings against the Rams, who have just two seniors on their roster.
“We knew coming in they’d be a good hitting team,” said ninth-year Coach Julie Snavely. “It is what it is. We had a good season, there’s no disappointments.”