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Junior Softball: Perryville plays 'small ball' to edge Halfway, defend state championship

July 25, 2013|By DANIEL KAUFFMAN | kauffman@herald-mail.com
  • Halfway first baseman Morgan Domer (17) awaits the pickoff throw while Perryville runner Ashley Meekins scrambles back to the bag during Thursday's fourth inning of the Maryland State Junior Softball Tournament's championship game. Perryville won 2-1.
By Joe Crocetta / Staff Photographer

SHARPSBURG — Halfway pitcher Emily Talbert turned Perryville into one-hit wonders on Thursday night.

It wasn’t enough to force one more game in the Maryland State Junior Softball Tournament.

Perryville defended its state title by using small ball and taking advantage of Halfway miscues — including one in the eighth inning — for a 2-1 victory over Halfway in the championship round at Sharpsburg Little League.

“It’s never fun to lose, but I couldn’t be more proud of these girls,” Halfway manager Mike Renn said. “They gave 100 percent every time they stepped onto the field, and as a coach, that’s all you can ask for.

“This was not only an accomplishment for the girls, but for Halfway. To be the first team (from Halfway) to win the district title, and then to come in second at states, is something to be proud of.”

Tied at 1 entering the bottom of the eighth, Talbert walked leadoff hitter Ellen Little — her sixth walk allowed — before notching her 10th and final strikeout of the game.

Erin Murphy followed with a grounder to short that was bobbled, then thrown late and wild to second. The ball rolled into a right field left vacant when the right fielder ran in to back up an expected throw to first, allowing Little to race around the bases to score the winning run.

“Their girl (Talbert) was on tonight,” Perryville manager Mike Knell said. “She threw hard, and our bats were not on tonight. We had to go to small ball and force them to make a play. ... You hate to see a game end like that, but it’s part of the game.”

Perryville took a 1-0 lead in the fifth without the benefit of a hit.

Katie Fitzpatrick led off with a walk, went to second on Kadi Davis’ sacrifice bunt, took third on a passed ball and scored on Little’s fielder’s safety squeeze bunt, with the throw home too high to get the sliding Fitzpatrick.

Halfway tied the game at 1 in the sixth. With two outs, Madi Renn singled up the middle and Talbert followed with a double into the gap in left to score Renn from first.

Halfway finished with five hits — Talbert had two of them — but was hurt by three errors and a base-running mistake in the first inning when leadoff hitter Courtney McGhee was easily thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple.

“Emily pitched a heck of a ballgame for us,” Mike Renn said. “Against a team like Perryville, you have to play fundamentally sound, and we didn’t play our best tonight.”

Emily Phillips’ infield single into the hole at short in the third inning was Perryville’s only hit.

Phillips got the win in the circle for Perryville. She walked just one while striking out eight. Perryville was error-free behind her and turned in a handful of top-notch defensive plays.

“Luckily, our pitching was on and our defense was on,” Knell said. “Every play is a big play, every out a big out.”

Perryville entered the game knowing Halfway would be a tough out. Perryville scratched out a 5-4 victory over Halfway in a winners’ bracket semifinal earlier in the tournament, needing a game-winning single in the seventh to claim the win.

“We had a lot of respect for them,” Knell said. “We did think we’d see them again.”

After missing five players on Wednesday night because of travel softball conflicts, only one player missed Thursday night’s game for Halfway.

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