Softball: Sherwood 6, Northwest 2

by Eric Meany

GLEN BURNIE, Md. — The Sherwood High School softball team moved one step closer to a second consecutive perfect season Tuesday, securing its 41st straight win with a 6-2 victory over Northwest in the semifinal round of the MPSSAA Class 4A State Championship Tournament.

Shortstop Nicole Stockinger had two hits, a run scored and two RBI for the Warriors (20-0), while center fielder Amelia Naik added two hits, two runs scored and an RBI of her own. Junior pitcher Meggie Dejter went the distance for the win.

Sherwood junior Meggie Dejter pitched Sherwood into the state finals for the second straight year.

Sherwood junior Meggie Dejter pitched the Warriors into the state finals for the second straight year.

Northwest (17-3) made Dejter work for the victory, putting at least one runner on base in every inning. The Jaguars left runners on second in both the fourth and fifth innings before finally scoring single runs in the sixth and seventh. In the end, though, Northwest lacked the firepower to stop the defending state champions from advancing to the finals for the fourth time in six years.

Gutsy pitching from freshman Bridgette Barbour kept the Jaguars within reach throughout the game, holding the typically high-scoring Sherwood offense to fewer than 10 runs for just the fifth time this season.

With runners on second and third with no outs and one run already across in the fourth inning, Barbour induced two fly balls to the outfield and a pop out to catcher Stephanie Miller to escape without further damage. She followed that up by getting three outs on three pitches in the top of the fifth to keep the score at 4-0.

“There’s no quit in her, and you could see that,” Northwest coach Kevin Corpuz said of Barbour. “Her back was against the wall in some situations and she’s not folding, she just continues to do her thing and work. She’s a pretty good pitcher and I can only imagine that she’s going to get better from here, especially taking this experience and bringing it back hopefully for three more solid years.”

Barbour was wild in the first inning, allowing a single and a walk and throwing two wild pitches to give the Warriors an early 1-0 lead before settling down. Sherwood added two more runs in the top of the third inning on RBI singles from Stockinger and Kelsey Lineberger.

Freshman Kelly Bouma led off the top of the fourth with a triple to deep left field and scored two batters later on an RBI single by Addie Ambruster to give the Warriors a four-run lead. After going down in order in the fifth, Sherwood struck for two more runs in the sixth on RBI singles by Naik and Stockinger to make it 6-0.

Northwest didn’t give up, though, as second baseman Tanysha Tennassee hit a single up the middle with two outs in the bottom of the sixth to drive in Lily Schenkel for the Jaguars’ first run of the game. Barbour then kept Sherwood off the board in the top of the seventh with the aid of a diving catch in center field by Erika Havrilla to leave Northwest down by five with three outs to go.

Barbour drove in Jordan Sheppard with a one-out sacrifice fly to cut the Warriors’ lead to four runs in the bottom of the seventh, but the Jaguars would get no closer. Miller singled, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch but was stranded there when junior Jenna Brown hit a fly ball to Bouma in right field for the final out.

While he of course would have preferred a win, Corpuz said the experience gained in Northwest’s first-ever trip to the state semifinals represents a step in the right direction for the Jaguars.

“Now that this group has a taste, they understand,” Corpuz said. “There’s something to be said for the process and the experience of actually being here. We feel that we do have a good returning core coming back next year, and hopefully this day will help motivate us in the offseason.”

For Sherwood, the offseason will have to wait until they play one more game. The Warriors, whose last loss was an 8-6 defeat at the hands of Blair in the 2011 Class 4A West regional final, will defend their state title against Glen Burnie on Saturday at the University of Maryland in College Park.

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