Softball: Bruins Oust Severna Park
The simple reality of competitive sports is both its best and worst aspect.
Only one team can win.
Such was the reality facing the Severna Park and Broadneck softball teams on May 16 at Broadneck High School, when the two sides squared off for a third and final meeting, this time in the 4A East Region semifinal.
Two of the best teams in the county all spring long, the Bruins and Falcons had each put together outstanding seasons leading up to the final showdown. Broadneck had slugged their way to wins in the previous two regular-season meetings with Severna Parkan 8-1 home win on March 26 and a 17-9 romp on April 30and the Bruins were riding a seven-game win streak entering the game. The Falcons, meanwhile, had just weeks prior climbed to the #1 overall ranking in the Baltimore Sun polls and had posted a 16-5 overall record.
Two good teams. Only one could win.
Broadnecks Emily Pfleuger pitched a complete game shutout, scattering five hits and striking out five to best Severna Park starting pitcher Clare Hofstedt. The defense stood tall behind Pfleuger, and a first-inning sacrifice fly by Maja Henson that scored Kasey McDowell proved the difference in a 1-0 win for Broadneck. The victory advanced the Bruins to the 4A East Region final and gave Severna Park a disappointing end to an otherwise outstanding season.
It was really nerve-wracking, just trying to keep it going the whole time, keep it low, keep it down, said Pfleuger of her pitching performance, adding that it was extra special to notch a playoff victory over archrival Severna Park. Beating a good team three times is really hard, so its a good win.
In close victories, the plays coming at the end of the game get the most attention as decisive in the outcome, but in this contest it was a first-inning play that proved to be a bona fide game-winner. In the top of the first, Hofstedt led off the game with a triple, boosting the confidence of her team and putting the pressure squarely on Broadneck. One batter later, it looked as though the Falcons would take a 1-0 lead when Paige Briganti hit a fly ball to center and Hofstedts pinch runner tagged up from third. But Broadnecks Paige Ruden snared the fly and made an outstanding throw home to catcher Gabby Henson, who blocked the plate and took a hit but held on for the momentum-swinging double play. The sound Broadneck defense continued in the second inning, as a running, over-the-shoulder catch by Bruins shortstop Kristina Dillard robbed Severna Park cleanup hitter Emma Yale of a leadoff hit.
So it went for the Falcons, who couldnt capitalize on a typically excellent pitching performance by Hofstedt. Thats probably the best weve played that team all year, said Severna Park Head Coach Meredith McCalister. Clare Hofstedt had a heck of a game pitching We hit well all over the lineup, just couldnt string them together.
While the win was a high for Broadneck, they experienced the low just two days later, as they fell in the 4A East Region final to eventual state finalist Chesapeake, 4-2. The Bruins finished the season 17-6.
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