With a hearty fist pump and quick toss of her glove, Kaitlyn Schmeiserended perhaps the most satisfying career of any Maryland high school softball pitcher.
The Northern senior struck out 15 and allowed just one hit as the top-ranked Patriots capped an undefeated season with a 3-0 victory over Howard at the University of Maryland for their fourth consecutive 3A championship, each of which was won by Schmeiser. She is the first in state history to pitch four title-clinching victories; each was a shutout.
Northern’s nine batters Saturday were all on the field last season when they claimed the title, which put an incredible burden on their standout pitcher to do what no one had ever done.
“There were times when they pressure rises,” said Schmeiser, who has signed with Maryland, “but with the team we have, you just know that nobody’s going to stop us.”
As dominant as Schmeiser was – she fanned 237 and allowed 15 hits in 111 innings this season – she had plenty of talent supporting her; six of Northern’s eight seniors have committed to play college softball, and Schmeiser’s younger sister, junior All-Met shortstop Lindsey, has orally committed to Maryland as well.
“We’re not a one-trick pony,” Northern Coach Robert Radford said. “Because of [Kaitlyn] we just don’t get a chance to show it.”
The Patriots (22-0) did Saturday. Howard’s Katie Wilkinson had a one-out single in the top of the first inning and stole second. With two out, Juliana Natoli hit a blooper just on the edge of the outfield grass in right field, but Northern second baseman Abby Orlandi dove and made a run-saving catch to end the inning and keep Howard (21-3) from becoming just the fifth team to score on Northern this season.
“Laying out for a ball is what I live for,” Orlandi, a senior, said. “After all [Kaitlyn] has done for us, it’s the least I could do.”
And then Schmeiser watched her big sister take over, as Northern won its eighth title overall.
“I was watching girls [try to] bunt and see the ball literally jump over their bats,” Lindsey Schmeiser said. Kaitlyn “has worked harder this year than ever and she deserves it.”