COLLEGE PARK — Though it may not have been as comfortable as they would have liked it, Mountain Ridge isn’t going to complain about taking the Maryland 1A State championship by outranking Colonel Richardson 9-8 in eight innings Friday evening in football weather at Robert E. Taylor Stadium.
Chelsea Muir saved the day by hitting a walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth inning to score Carlie Lewis and send the Miners to back-to-back titles. The Miners showed their mettle by coming back early and late, overcoming a 2-0 deficit during the second inning and needing to score in the bottom of the seventh just to force extra innings.
“These girls are something special,” said Martha Mauzy, Mountain Ridge’s head coach. “It always seems that someone steps up when things get close, and the closer things get the stronger they respond.”
The Colonels did a great job of just getting the bat on the ball early on, and got to Mountain Ridge’s Lewis for four hits over the first two innings to build the 2-0 lead.
Freshman Jazmine Brooks, who stung the Miners for four singles and two stolen bases, started the game with a hit back up the middle, and wound up scoring on a single by pitcher Megan Johnson. The Colonels scored again in the second inning when Courtney Stubbs led off with a single and Brooks drove her in on her second base hit.
Lewis helped wake up the Mountain Ridge bats by hitting a one-out triple to right-center field in the bottom of the second. She scored when Katie Llewellyn collected the first of her four hits (a double and three singles), and Llewellyn came home when Muir doubled. Muir scored the third run of the inning on the help of a passed ball and a wild pitch.
The Miners scored three more times in the third inning, as the first three batters of the inning came all the way around to extend the Miners lead to 6-2. Anna Broadwater started with a single and scored when Jenna Miller doubled. Miller, who advanced to third when Richardson tried to get Broadwater at the plate, scored on a passed ball, and Emma Baker would finish the inning by tripling and scoring on a wild pitch.
Each team scored a run in the fourth with Col. Richardson getting an unearned run off of Brooks’ third single, and Mountain Ridge scoring when Broadwater reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and scored on a single by Miller.
With a 7-3 lead, Mountain Ridge relied on its defense to get it through the fifth and sixth innings. Llewellyn added a diving catch in right field to her four hits to help the Miners get through the fifth, and they went Emma Baker to Broadwater to Shae Winner to record a 4-6-3 double play in the sixth.
The Colonels still trailed by four when they entered the the top of the seventh, but got a walk, a single and an error to load the bases with no outs. After a line out to second left the bases loaded, Johnson drew a walk to make it 7-4 and Madison Bee hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to cut the lead to 7-5. Three straight singles brought home three more runs and gave the Colonels an 8-7 lead.
Miller started the Miners’ seventh with a ground out to short, but Winner, who had popped out to an infielder in her previous three at bats, lined a doubled down the left field foul line to score Baker, who had doubled the bat before Winner’s.
“Shae’s done that her whole career,” said Mauzy. “She’s one of those I was talking about when I said we had players who step up when we need them to. She didn’t have the best at bats her first times up, but was right there when we needed her.”
The Miners ruined the Colonels chance to score in the top of the eighth by cutting down the runner at third base on a sacrifice bunt by Brooks. Muir then threw out Brooks trying to steal to foreshadow her own importance in the bottom half of the inning.
The home half of the eighth started with Lewis on second as the tiebreaker, and she moved up to third when Llewellyn lined a single off the top of the shortstop’s glove. With the outfield moved in to prevent Lewis from tagging, Muir took advantage and drove the game-winning single over the right fielder’s head.
“This year’s win was different from last year,” Muir said. “This whole season has been about us getting back to this point, where last year we really didn’t know how far we’d get until we got there. One’s not better than the other, but they do feel different.”
The win also marks 46 straight for the Miners, who have finished the last two seasons at 23-0.
“One day in the future the girls will look back and realize what they’ve done these past couple of years, and not just in softball, but in many cases three sports,” said Mauzy. “These girls have given a lot of their lives to Mountain Ridge. Hopefully, Mountain Ridge will remember them for a long time.”
Chris Appel is a sports writer for the Times-News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.