14U Green Hornets Win NCCGSL Championship
By Colin A.J. Murphy
On June 23, the Severna Park Green Hornets 14U Team Green softball squad capped a magical run through the North County Community Girls Softball League playoffs, twice beating the North Glen Yellow Jackets, 7-5 and 23-16, to claim the 2012 NCCGSL 14U championship. The two victories came as sweet revenge for the Green Hornets, who toppled the same North Glen Yellow Jackets that had dropped them into the tournaments losers bracket with a 7-4, second-round loss. Severna Park showed great resilience following the initial loss to North Glen by winning its next six playoff games and finishing on top of the NCCGSL with an 8-1 postseason record.
There was a time not too long ago when a league championship seemed like a long shot for Severna Park.
We had a bad two weeks, our confidence was low, and we didnt play well in all phases, said Team Green coach Guy Klingensmith of the teams struggles prior to playoff time. Severna Park finished the regular season with a 6-3-1 record, dropping three of its final five games. But as a team, we regrouped and turned in an outstanding effort during the playoffs.
Led defensively all season by the solid pitching of Payton Klingensmith, Cassie Hollingsworth, Kaylin Fitzmaurice and Emma Moore; superb infield defense by Fitzmaurice, Hollingsworth, Hannah Neal, Sarah Quasny and Shannon Fletcher; strong outfield play from outfielders Klingensmith, Kailey Campbell, Laura Hedenstead, Rachel Hutchings, and Regan Cintron; and outstanding work behind the plate from catcher Sage Beauparlant, the Green Hornets found offensive contributions from the top to the bottom of the lineup during their championship playoff run.
In the teams opening-round win over Harundale, Neal and Beauparlant sparked the Green Hornets offense and gave run support to pitchers Klingensmith and Hollingsworth, as Severna Park avenged a regular-season loss to Harundale. In the second round, the Green Hornets offense sputtered, and they were cut down by the regular-season champion Yellow Jackets. With their backs against the ropes, coach Scott Beauparlant gave his team the simple reality: Start hitting and we continue to move on, and if we dont, were out of the playoffs.
The Green Hornets took the message to heart, embarking on their long path to the championship. Severna Park won its next game, exploding for 20 runs in a 20-5 pummeling of Severn AC Shabangz. The offense continued to produce in the next game, a 21-5 win over the GORC Lady Wildcats.
The Harundale Cardinals awaited Severna Park in the fifth round. Klingensmith and Hollingsworth combine for a gem on the mound, allowing only two runs against the Cardinals. Timely hits by Hutchings and Fletcher and three runs scored by leadoff hitter Quasny powered Severna Park to an 8-2 win.
The victory advanced the Green Hornets into a quarterfinal matchup with their sister squad, the Severna Park Yellow Hornets. The opposing sides of friends staged an extra-inning thriller under the lights at Severn Danza Park, with Klingensmith and Yellow Hornets starter Darby Hehl toeing the rubber.
The Green Hornets held a 7-3 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, but the Yellow Hornets came roaring back. A two-out triple by Chelsea Hehl and a subsequent base hit made for a four-run frame and sent the game to extra innings. After each side scored a run in the eighth inning, the Green Hornets plated four in the ninth and Hollingsworth closed on the mound, wrapping up the hectic 12-8 Green Hornets win. The offense was led by Fitzmaurice, Beaurparlant, Neal and Hollingsworth and a big timely hit by Hedenstead.
In the semifinal, the Green Hornets faced the number-two seed Havenwood Chaos, one of the top two teams in the league all season long and a team that had beaten them in their previous regular-season matchup. Klingensmith and Hollingsworth again combined to pitch well for Severna Park, and the Green Hornets scored at least one run in every inning except one in a 10-5 win. Hollingsworth, Beauparlant and Fletcher were the offensive leaders, while Fitzmaurice, Quasny and Hedenstead made key defensive plays to keep the Chaos from mounting any threats.
The victory over Havenwood advanced the Green Hornets to the finals, where they would need to beat North Glen twice in order to take the championship. On a blistering hot June 23 afternoon at Severn Danza Park, Severna Park jumped all over North Glen in the first game, scoring four runs in the first inning, three on a bases-clearing base hit by Beauparlant. The Green Hornets scored runs in the second, third and fourth innings; Klingensmith and Hollingsworth combined to allow five runs; and defensive plays by Neal, Moore, Hutchings and Fitzmaurice added up to a 7-5 Severna Park win, forcing a winner-take-all final game later the same day.
The final game proved to be a seesaw affair of heavy offensive production. Severna Park again scored four runs in the first inning, but North Glen came back with five of their own in the bottom of the first. The Hornets had built a 12-9 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, but North Glen surged for five runs in the frame to take a 14-12 lead. A perfectly executed bunt by Campbell in the top of the sixth sparked a four-run Hornets rally, allowing them to regain the lead at 16-14.
In the seventh and decisive inning, the Green Hornets delivered the knockout punch of a lifetime; seven of the first eight Severna Park batters scored, powered by Moore, Hutchings, Fletcher, Campbell, Quasny, Klingensmith, Fitzmaurice, Hedenstead and Neal.
The girls were so close all year to breaking out, and we finally exploded in the seventh inning, said coach Beauparlant.
The Hornets retired the Yellow Jackets in the bottom half of the inning to wrap up the 23-16 victory and claim the 2012 NCCGSL 14U championship. Undefeated champions of the 12U NCCGSL a season ago, this is the second consecutive year that Klingensmiths squad has won the NCCGSL. The title also marks the third consecutive year the GSPAA has produced the 14U champions.
Our desire, focus and ability to respond with composure was outstanding, said coach Klingensmith of his squad. The entire community should be proud of all the girls.
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