GLEN BURNIE — Maggie Hubbard had been at-bat with bases loaded before.
But North Dorchester High’s junior catcher admitted what she was being asked was something new for her.
“We told Maggie, take a quick glance (at the defense),” said North Dorchester head softball coach Carol Hubbard of her daughter. “When (the pitcher) starts her motion, take a quick glance, read the fielders. If they’re crashing swing away. If they’re staying back, put the bunt down.”
Of course with the speedy Anna Hopkins anxiously waiting to race home from third, Maggie knew all she really needed to do late Tuesday afternoon was put the ball in play. She did just that, knocking a single through the left side of the infield in the bottom of the seventh inning to plate Hopkins with the winning run, giving North Dorchester a 5-4 victory over Patterson Mill in a Class 1A state semifinal at the George Bachman Sports Complex.
The second-seeded Eagles (21-2) advance to Saturday’s 1A state championship where they will meet No. 5 seed Catoctin (20-2) at 1 p.m. at the University of Maryland, College Park. Catoctin edged Mardela, 3-2, in Tuesday’s other semifinal, spoiling a potential all-Bayside Conference state final.
“When you play for as long as I have, especially with this team, you want to make it as memorable as possible,” Maggie Hubbard said. “I don’t think I’ll ever forget this.”
Mother and daughter probably won’t forget the late-inning drama either.
North Dorchester carried a 4-2 lead into the top of the seventh inning against the sixth-seeded Huskies (15-3). Eagles ace Emilee Cohee had retired six straight before Kelsey Price drove a lead-off double to left. Mackenzie Knight grounded to short, but Hopkins inadvertently spiked her throw, putting runners on the corners.
Cohee uncorked a low delivery that Maggie Hubbard briefly couldn’t locate, allowing Price to score and Knight to reach third. Cohee induced Kaylyn Pulket to pop out to third. Paige Caprinolo then hit a comebacker to Cohee. With Knight running on contact and more than halfway to the plate with the tying run, Cohee threw to first for the second out before getting Audrey March on an inning-ending pop-out to second base.
“I knew when they got the two runs and the bases were clear we just needed to get the out and get out of that inning,” Carol Hubbard said. “I knew we had the top of our lineup coming up. Obviously if you got to come up in the seventh inning, that’s where you want to be is in your top. So I knew if we could get those outs without anymore damage we were good.”
North Dorchester’s top four hitters — Hopkins, Cohee, Mackenzie Lewis and Maggie Hubbard — who finished a combined 10 for 14, accounting for all the Eagles’ hits — proved their coach right.
Hopkins (4 for 4) hit a grounder that glanced off the glove of Huskies reliever Alyssa Miller for an infield hit. After Hopkins stole second, Cohee (2 for 3) was intentionally walked. Lewis (2 for 3) then beat out a pretty bunt, loading the bases for cleanup hitter Maggie Hubbard (2 for 4).
“When they took a little timeout my coach (assistant Wade Hopkins) came up to me and told me that I had a decision to make on what kind of play I wanted to run based on what their fielders were doing,” Maggie Hubbard said. “And it was kind of something that I’ve never done before to (show bunt then) pull back and swing.
“But I knew wherever I put it in play, I had my fellow captain Anna Hopkins on base, who’s probably one of the fastest runners I’ve seen,” Maggie continued. “So I kind of knew just as long as I could put it in play that I should get her home. And that’s all that I wanted to do.”
Maggie bounced a single into left field, easily scoring Hopkins with the winning run and sending North Dorchester to its first state championship game.
“Obviously that’s got to make you sweat a little,” said Cohee of Patterson Mill’s late rally. “I mean seventh inning. But we’re a good offensive team. And I knew it. Anna on third. She’s as fast as I don’t know what. I was on second, Kez was on (first). Something was bound to happen. Maggie’s a good hitter.”
Hopkins lined the first pitch she saw from Huskies starter Lily Baldwin into center field for a leadoff single in the bottom of the first. Cohee singled over the glove of the leaping Savannah Reedy at short to push Hopkins to third. Lewis then hit a grounder that second baseman Price dove to knock down, but threw past first, allowing Hopkins and Cohee to score for a 2-0 lead. Baldwin retired the next three batters to get out of the inning.
The Eagles extended their lead to 4-0 in the third.
Hopkins again singled off the first pitch, then advanced to third on a hit-and-run when Cohee singled through the right side of the infield. Lewis’ suicide squeeze bunt plated Hopkins for a three-run lead. Hubbard then laced a 1-2 offering into right field to score Cohee with the fourth run.
Cohee carried a no-hitter into the fourth, but got some help from third baseman Maddie Nagel in the third. Isabella Heebler opened the inning with a grounder that went off the glove of Nagel, who tried to recover quickly but threw wide of first. After a strikeout and issuing her only walk, Cohee got Knight to pop up. Nagel made the catch then threw a strike to Chayla Creighton covering second to get Heebler for the inning-ending double play.
Patterson Mill broke through against Cohee in the fourth.
Reedy sliced a one-out double to left. After getting Audry March on a groundout to third, Baldwin reached on an infield hit that scored Reedy. Lily Hofmyster then hit a high-fly single behind short, scoring Baldwin, drawing the Huskies within 4-2. The rally ended there as Cohee fanned Ella Lawrenchus for the last out of the inning.
“I’ve been like struggling towards the end of our season so I scheduled a hitting and a pitching lesson (Monday) night,” Cohee said. “And my pitching coach, George Pechin, he got me right. My riseball is back where it’s supposed to be. I was keeping my front leg too light and I wasn’t whipping through (with my arm).”
Cohee gave up seven hits and four runs in the complete-game effort, striking out nine and walking just one. Baldwin pitched three innings, yielding four runs, five hits and no walks to go with five strikeouts. Miller also gave up five hits, a run, walked two and had no strikeouts.
Col. Richardson 6, Northern Garrett 4
FREDERICK — Brayden Dadds’ two-run single proved to be the difference Tuesday, as the Colonels topped North Garrett at McCurdy Field, setting up a rematch of last year’s Class 1A state semifinal against Clear Spring.
Second-seeded Colonel Richardson (19-4) will meet the top seed Blazers on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf.
Chandler Tindall went 3 for 4 for the Colonels and Carter Walters was 2 for 3, which proved to be enough support for winning pitcher Daniel Hesson. Camron Gondeck, Conner Detrich and Gavin Whitby each had hits for Colonel.
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