By Nelson Coffin
Featuring a wicked change-up and a nice riser, McDonogh pitcher Kearstyn Chapman was almost all the second-seeded Eagles needed to turn back top-seeded Archbishop Spalding, 1-0, in the A Conference championship softball game on Saturday afternoon at Harford Community College .
With “almost” being the operative word in the above sentence, McDonogh also had to have at least one run to claim its first title in 17 years, and catcher Madison Gemmill provided it with a clutch two-out single in the third inning to drive in freshman Emma Lach, who had also singled and advanced to second on a infield out.
It was Gemmill's 21st RBI of the season.
Chapman took over from there, working out of a minor jam in the bottom half of the third after two-out singles by junior outfielder Jordan Johnson and junior utility player Jewels Odenhahl put runners on first and second.
However, the sophomore right-hander escaped when junior infielder Caroline Wasko grounded out.
After that, Chapman retired 12 of the final 13 batters to complete the four-hit shutout.
Considering that the lacrosse team’s monumental 198-game winning streak had been snapped the night before by Notre Dame Prep, Chapman said that the Eagles were eager to make amends in any way they could.
“We have a lot of lacrosse support,” she said. “So it was just in our heads to bring some kind of title back to McDonogh — and we did.”
While McDonogh coach John Folfas said that he deliberately did not mention the lacrosse loss before the game, he knew that his team was aware of the setback.
“It was a bit of a downer,” he said. “But the teams try to support each other.”
The way Chapman’s pitch repertoire was working — she recorded five strikeouts and induced three popups over the final five innings — during the contest, the Cavaliers almost seemed to be at her mercy.
“Kearstyn kept us on our toes and stayed higher in the zone,” Spalding coach Nicki Trumpler said. “We missed some timely hits, which we have relied on all season.”
Chapman was also aided by a fine defensive play in center field by junior Lacey Allee-Press, who covered a lot of ground to snare a liner off the bat of sophomore first baseman Makenzie Maenner that, instead of falling for extra bases, was turned into an 8-4-3 double play.
“Our fielding was excellent today,” Folfas said about his team's errorless outing. “We have a lot of talent and we put in a lot of hard work over the winter, so I’m not surprised we were able to pull this off.”
Spalding starter Jordan Moore also tossed a gem in the loss, and proved to be Houdini-like in the fifth inning by escaping a no-out, bases-loaded threat in the fifth inning on two grounders and a strikeout to keep the one-run deficit intact.
“It was what every championship game should be,” Trumpler said. “Unfortunately we didn’t come out on top. Kudos to McDonogh for their play today.”
Trumpler said that Moore had confidence and poise on the mound while yielding just six hits.
“She got ahead of a lot of batters and allowed her defense to play behind her,” Trumpler added. “We had a great season and these ladies never gave up. We really worked hard to get ourselves back to the championship. We will work hard and hope to be back stronger next year.”