SALISBURY — North Dorchester High’s dreams for a deep postseason run — and a potential Class 1A state softball championship — are still in play.
But the Eagles were reminded Tuesday night how one bad inning can extinguish those hopes.
Playing in its first Bayside Conference championship in 38 years, North Dorchester committed an uncharacteristic three errors in the third inning and Mardela capitalized, scoring all the runs it needed for a 4-2 victory at the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex.
“Literally one tough inning,” North Dorchester head coach Carol Hubbard said. “We told them obviously we’re proud of them for making it this far. Mardela is a tough team. But the deeper we go (in the 1A playoffs) the tougher it’s going to get; the tougher pitchers we’re going to face. And we’re either going to adjust or we’re going to get knocked out. That’s the reality of it.”
Five days after Mardela handed North Dorchester its first loss of the season (4-3), the two division champions were locked in a scoreless pitcher’s duel between Eagles’ freshman left-hander Jewels Vroman and Hayden Adkins, one of the Warriors’ two freshmen aces.
That stalemate ended though in the bottom of the third inning.
Mardela’s Samantha Witte stroked a one-out single and stole second. Lexi Guy walked. Julia Wisk grounded to shortstop Anna Hopkins, whose toss to second was dropped, allowing Witte to score for a 1-0 lead. Ava Twilley followed with a clean single to center field, plating Guy to make it 2-0.
Hubbard relieved Vroman with Emilee Cohee, who got the first batter she faced, Camryn Dorr to pop up. But the ball was mishandled then thrown away in an attempt to get a runner at third, allowing courtesy runners Lynleigh Willing and Abby Campbell to score for a 4-0 Warriors lead.
“Mistakes happen,” Hubbard said. “But the deeper you go, one mistake can be the difference between a win and a loss. So we’re just going to try and tighten up, clean up, work on the routine stuff. If we can execute that, then things are much easier.”
Karsyn Shockley extended the inning with a bloop single to shallow right field. But Cohee ended the rally there, striking out Elana Donalds and getting Kara Twilley on a ground out to short.
“That was it,” Mardela head coach Kory Shiles said of the third inning. “That was the difference in the game. We had the one big inning. We had a hit or two. Put the ball in play, put the pressure on them and a couple boo-boos there and we capitalized on it, and I think that was the difference in the game.”
The Eagles (17-2) looked ready to cut into that deficit in the fourth against Adkins (8-0), who was pitching her first game in 2 1/2 weeks after being sidelined with an injury.
Maggie Hubbard ripped a leadoff single to right field. Guy made a nice leaping stab at short to take way a potential hit from Maddie Nagel. Vroman was hit by a pitch. Emily Boyle then grounded to second, but Vroman was called safe on the throw, loading the bases. The threat ended there, as Adkins got Chayla Creighton and Brooke Outten on consecutive called strike threes.
Despite getting a runner on in the fourth and fifth, Mardela had little success against Cohee, who pitched 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing two singles, a walk, while notching three strikeouts.
The Eagles broke through against Adkins in the top of the sixth. Maggie Hubbard worked a leadoff walk. Nagel then drilled an 0-1 pitch to left for a ground-rule double. Vroman lined out to first, but Hubbard raced home on Boyle’s groundout to short. Creighton reached on an infield hit, plating Nagel and drawing North Dorchester within 4-2. But Adkins avoided further damage, getting pinch-hitter Rilynn Blake to fly out to left.
“She never misses a spot hardly,” Shiles said of Adkins, who gave up four hits, three walks and struck out five. “I bet in a game she may miss two or three spots the whole game. Just location, location, location. It’s impressive. And what’s more impressive is she just came back from injury.
“We worked out of two or three jams there.” Shiles continued. “They had chances too. Good well played ballgame for the most part. One big inning for us was the difference.”
North Dorchester will be the No. 1 seed in the Class 1A East Region I bracket and host the winner of Thursday’s game between No. 5 seed Kent County and No. 4 Cambridge-South Dorchester on Monday. Mardela (20-1), the top seed in the 1A East Region II bracket, will host the winner of Thursday’s first-round game between No. 5 Crisfield and fourth-seeded Washington.
Mardela last won the conference championship in 2018.
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