In four years at National Cathedral, Sarah Ing has made her mark in soccer, softball and basketball. But she has made her greatest impact in softball where she has taken home the D.C. Gatorade Player of the Year two consecutive years.
On the diamond, she has overpowered batters with a drop pitch and fastball that has produced 80 strikeouts this season in 45 innings pitched. Friday, Ing will begin play in her final ISL AA tournament one year removed from a championship loss to Potomac School, 6-4.
“We lost a lot of seniors last year, so we weren’t as strong as we were last year,” Ing said. “We started out rough, but I’m really confident going into the tournament that we will have good outcome.”
Ing has become a leader for National Cathedral (5-3) this season after the lost of five seniors, including first-team All-Met Kinza Baad.
And if she’s not in the circle striking out just fewer than two batters per inning, she is giving opposing pitchers fits with a video-game-like .800 batting average and 1.710 slugging percentage. She has a team-high 15 RBI and two home runs.
“The key for me is not to get ove confident at the plate, focus on my mechanics and get a solid base hit every time,” Ing said. “I want to do what’s best for my team every time I’m at the plate.
In her four years on the varsity team, Ing has gone through four head coaches but she has remained focused on bringing wins to the school. Current Coach John Soroka was an assistant at National Cathedral her sophomore year and came back this season after spending a year at Lee as an assistant. When Ing was a sophomore, National Cathedral won the ISL A championship.
“I think that’s always tough for kids,” Soroka said. “They have a tendency to drift off or get hyper about impressing somebody new every year. But not Ing, she’s in a class by herself.”
Soroka said it’s going to be tough to fill the void that she will leave when she moves on to Davidson College as a student next year.
“It’s tough to say enough about her, she totally dedicated and fixed on her job,” Soroka said. “She’s the best pitcher day after day that I’ve seen in terms of the ISL, and she’s been that since she was a sophomore.”
The Northeast softball season has ended at the hands of Howard in the region semifinals all of the past three years. Howard’s reclassification to 4A comes at the perfect time for the Eagles as they finished the regular season undefeated with 16 Anne Arundel County wins.
But when one undefeated team profits, another finds itself with a potential meeting against the Howard County champions before the region finals. If the Lions (15-1-1) are to beat Paint Branch (8-7) and top-ranked Sherwood (15-0) can repeat its wins against Springbrook (6-10) or Blake as a second round opponent, the two squads will meet in the sectional final for a faceoff of the Warriors’ Meggie Dejter (117 strikeouts) and Nicole Stockinger (40 RBI) and the Lions’ Kayli Paugh (23 RBI, 79 strikeouts, batting .426) and Berit Battleton (23 RBI).
“The draw is what it is, we will be facing them either way. We plan to bring all that we’ve got and we are looking forward to playing them in the playoffs,” Warriors Coach Ashley Barber-Strunk said in an e-mail.
In the 3A bracket, reshuffling that once seemed to benefit the Eagles of Anne Arundel County will only give them an earlier shot at No. 4 Northern of Calvert County, which holds six consecutive state titles. Northern saw a 77-game win streak end at the hands of No. 10 Chopticon in the second game of the season. It has lost one game since then—a 4-3 decision to Eastern Tech, the 3A state runner-ups that will join the 2A bracket this season.
Two years ago, Vernon Kwiatkowski was an assistant coach at Crossland and the Cavaliers lost every game. The next year he took on head coach duties and the team finished right about .500. This year, thanks to the maturation of upperclassman, a talented sophomore pitcher and the reclassification of the county, the Cavaliers finished the season 12-1 and have a No. 2 seed going into the playoffs.
“Our players have become more familiar with the game,” Kwiatkowski said. “They have more experience now. It’s a combination of players that have been on the team for three or four years, coupled with young players that began playing early on and have a fundamental knowledge of the game — the mix of veterans and new players.”
This year’s ace was out with a hip injury in her first year of high school and returned to the circle this season. In past years, the girls got ready for the game with the mentality that they were already beaten before the first pitch by top county teams. The reclassification kept the Cavaliers from meeting teams such as Largo and Douglass, but “with the experience and the development from this season, they feel they can play with the best of them,” Kwiatkowski said.
Sherwood closed the regular season with its 56th consectuive victory by beating Blair, 2-0. . . . South County has three regular season games left, including a rematch with Lake Braddock on Monday for the Conference 6 regular season title. . . . Battlefield bounced back from its first lost of the season Friday and ran past Osbourn Park, 9-2, on the road. . . Northern has allowed only one run since its last loss on April 19. . . St. Mary’s Ryken won at Paul VI, 9-0, on Tuesday.
1. Sherwood (15-0) LW: 1
2. South County (17-1) LW: 2
3. Lake Braddock (15-1) LW: 3
4. Northern (18-2) LW: 4
5. Battlefield (10-1) LW: 6
6. Madison (16-2) LW: 7
7. St. Mary’s Ryken (20-4) LW: 8
8. Paul VI Catholic (20-2) LW: 5
9. McLean (13-2) LW: 9
10. Chopticon (15-1) LW: 10
Records through Tuesday. Rankings will be suspended during the playoffs. Final rankings will be published on allmetsports.com on June 18.