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  • The 18U Green Hornets achieved a long-sought after goal of a state championship this summer when they claimed the crown at the United States Specialty Sports Association C state tournament.
    Courtesy photo
    The 18U Green Hornets achieved a long-sought after goal of a state championship this summer when they claimed the crown at the United States Specialty Sports Association C state tournament.

Green Hornets 18U Softball Girls Win USSSA C State Crown, Finish Fourth At Nationals

Colin Murphy
View Bio
August 8, 2017

Playing one final summer travel season together, the Green Hornets 18U softball team coached by Guy Klingensmith achieved its primary goal this season of winning a state championship.

The team of Kresta Basil, Julia Brierly, Logan Endley, Ashley Feeney, Emma Fontz, Victoria Goodwin, Julia Howlin, Payton Klingensmith, Cassie McGinnis, Valerie McGrath, Lakira Mitchell, Samantha Ritter, Kelsey Smith, Maddie Ward and Alison Wilson, led by head coach Guy Klingensmith and assistant coaches Matt McGrath and Allan Ward, defeated the Charles Carroll Chargers 8-3 in the championship game of the United States Specialty Sports Association C state championship tournament to claim a hard-earned state crown.

The Green Hornets had fallen to the Chargers three times previously in the season entering the final, but they saved a sterling performance for the biggest stage.

“We worked on game plan during practices,” said coach McGrath. “We were prepared and executed it to perfection.”

Every girl on the team had a hit in the championship victory, which featured strong pitching by Smith and Wilson, and excellent defense from Mitchell, McGinnis, Goodwin and Fontz was solid throughout the tournament.

The team’s run to the title began on a high note as Klingensmith and Smith combined for an opening-game no-hitter against the Hickory Hornets. Wilson pitched in a subsequent victory over the Winfield Sting, and Feeney had a clutch two-out, two-run single that propelled the Hornets to a win. Severna Park rallied from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Cumberland Heat in their next contest, getting clutch hits from Klingensmith, Mitchell and Ritter and solid pitching from Feeney and Wilson to punch the team’s ticket to the final and set up the title-winning victory over the Chargers.

Though the state title was a major accomplishment, it was by no means the only excellent performance by the Green Hornets this season. The team’s summer also featured a Silver bracket championship at the Pennsylvania Recreational Tournament in the week after the Maryland state championship. Feeney, Wilson and Klingensmith handled the circle in that tournament run, while Mitchell, Ritter, Basil and McGinnnis led the offense.

Severna Park also made the championship game of the Pennsylvania Class B Championships, falling 3-2 to Woodbridge of New Jersey on a walk-off hit. Goodwin was named to the All-Tournament team for her outstanding all-around play.

Prior to the Maryland state championship, the Green Hornets started the season with a pair of finals appearances, including a second-place finish at the Freedom Invitational in which Mitchell had a stellar offensive tournament and Brierly’s play at catcher was crucial to the team’s success. Pitching by Smith and Wilson and excellent defense by McGrath and Ward were also tournament highlights.

The team followed that performance with another second-place finish in the USSSA Summer C Clash, getting great offensive tournaments from Mitchell, Ritter, McGinnis and Basil. Ward, McGrath and Klingensmith all had outstanding diving catches in the outfield, while Smith, Wilson and Feeney all pitched well.

In July, Severna Park closed its season with a trip to the Eastern Region Nationals in South Carolina, where they scored an early 5-4 victory over Forest Hill behind two hits and three runs by Klingensmith and a two-RBI triple by McGinnis. After a loss to the Cumberland Heat, the team went into the loser’s bracket needing to win to keep their season alive. They notched a repeat victory over Forest Hill, this time by a 14-2 score, as Wilson and Goodwin had two hits apiece and Goodwin and Howlin provided doubles to lead the offense. The Green Hornets moved on to take a 9-4 victory in their next contest over the Winfield Sting, coming from 2-0 down and putting together a six-run inning. Mitchell and Endley each had two-RBI doubles, Feeney had an RBI single and Wilson pitched to secure the win.

The team notched a third straight win-or-go-home victory with a 5-4 win over the Mid-Maryland Elite in extra innings, getting a walk-off hit by Wilson to score Howlin and lift Severna Park to a wild win in eight innings. Klingensmith had three hits in the victory, while McGinnis, Mitchell, Basil and Endley all had hits during a four-run Severna Park rally.

Despite falling in their next contest, the Green Hornets nonetheless placed fourth overall at the Eastern Nationals. The tournament featured strong pitching by Feeney, Smith and Wilson; solid infield defense by Mitchell, McGinnis, Goodwin and Howlin; solid outfield play by Ward, McGrath, Klingensmith and Brierley; and excellent catching by Basil, who threw out four would-be base stealers. Wilson and Klingensmith were the offensive stars for the Hornets in Nationals, as Wilson finished with nine hits and was key to the Hornets pitching staff, while Klingensmith was on base 15 out 19 times with nine hits, five walks and a HBP.

Coach Klingensmith noted how the girls, many of whom have played together for six or more years and not all of whom had previously had the opportunity to start on winning teams, achieved the goals they set out to accomplish.

“Most of them have not experienced being starters, and they finally got a chance,” said Klingensmith. “They love the game and wanted to continue playing. This was their last year together, and the goals for the year were to change the culture, win states and finish fourth or better at nationals. We did all of those. I cannot be more proud of these girls, and just as important, the families.”

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