Cumberland Times-News

August 2, 2013

Miners tap mother lode with repeat area titles

Post back-to-back 23-0 seasons with two Maryland 1A State crowns the past two years

Chris Appel
Cumberland Times-News

— FROSTBURG — After winning a state championship in 2012, Mountain Ridge was being penciled in by most people as the best team in the area well before any whispers of the season started to flow. After running through an almost exact duplicate of a season in 2013, what was written in pencil is now etched in stone as another undefeated season, conference championship and Maryland 1A State title brought the Miners the their second-straight unanimous Times-News Softball Area championship.

In the process of winning two consecutive area titles the Miners were able to pull off feats that haven’t been seen in the area for over a generation, if ever.

Not since the Allegany Campers baseball teams repeated as Maryland 2A champions in 1989 and 1990 has a Western Maryland school won back-to-back state titles in either football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball or softball. Besides doing something that hasn’t been done in almost 25 years Mountain Ridge also became the first area softball team to record an undefeated season in the Appalachian Mountain Athletic Conference, having done so in each of the past two seasons. The school also piled up 46 victories in a row, and passed the 100-win mark in the early rounds of the playoffs.

While every single one of those is impressive in itself, only the state championship really mattered to the Miners, and they knew from the beginning it wouldn’t be easy. Head Coach Martha Mauzy relayed what many coaches have said the season after winning a championship.

“I think that it is harder to repeat any championship than to win it the first time because you are a walking target. After you win any championship every other team that you play wants to defeat the team that is on top. I feel that every team has to establish its own identity and each team is unique in its own right.”

Establishing that identity was one of the few worries that Mauzy had going into the 2013 season. Mountain Ridge was getting some of the best players in the area back with four first-team All-Area selections returning, including Times-News Area Player of the Year Carlie Lewis.

What the Miners were losing was the leadership of two graduating seniors.

“One thing that I was concerned about going into this season was finding the leadership that Taylor Llewellyn and Kaylee DeVore had given us the previous season,” commented Mauzy.

That worry dissipated quickly after Mauzy discovered that this year’s team had plenty of its own kind of leadership.

“This year’s team was made up of many of the same girls, but the leadership showed in a different way. This team shared the responsibility with everyone on the team which made it more of a total team responsibility. It was more of an attitude that I will do whatever is necessary for us to continue to win, and many different players shouldered that responsibility throughout the season.”

Mountain Ridge was on atop of the Times-News softball polls from the very first of the year, and did so in an area where three other teams also went deep into their respective playoffs. Petersburg (27-8) finished in second after playing its way into the West Virginia Class AA State Tournament, and Fort Hill (14-7) fought the Miners to one of their toughest wins to place third.

Moorefield (26-5) finished fourth after making it to the West Virginia Class A finals, while Hyndman (17-8) was voted fifith

Besides having five games rained out in the first two weeks, the Miners started 2013 much the same as they did 2012. They won their first four games by at least eight runs and had four shutouts through their first five games, outscoring opponents 55-1.

A 3-0 win over Hyndman stuck as Mountain Ridge’s closest win until Fort Hill managed to get to within a run with a 2-1 loss two weeks later. Mountain Ridge would play only one other close game the rest of the regular season, but then closed out its playoff run with a 5-4 win over North Carroll, a 4-3 win over Perryville and a 9-8 win over Colonel Richardson in the the 1A finals.

While repeating all of the championships and passing the 100-win mark was important to the Miners, it isn’t what Mauzy will remember most about this team.

“All the milestones and championships are really nice, but what I am most proud of is how these young ladies have responded and how they have handled all that has faced them with total class.

“These young ladies care deeply for their teammates, and that will be a life-long bond. From the No. 1 player to the last player, this team was the most unselfish team I have ever coached. They were all willing to put the team’s welfare ahead of their own personal agendas.”

So far removed from the last time an area team has experienced this type of success, and because the team was more important than any one accomplishment, many of the players might not realize just how good they’ve been.

But that just adds to the Miners’ character.

“I think that it takes a few years for players to really appreciate what they have accomplished,” Mauzy said. “I don’t think that you can replace these seniors that have played so many sports for Mountain Ridge. These young ladies sure have set the bar high for any future teams, and that is a good thing, but records are made to be broken so good luck to anyone that can accomplish what these young ladies have done.”

 Chris is a sportswriter for the Times-News. Contact him at cappel@times-news.com.