GLEN BURNIE – Bowie High School’s undefeated season ended just short of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) softball finals.
In a game that came down to the wire and was scoreless until the sixth inning, the Lady Bulldogs fell to Sherwood, 3-2, in the state semifinals on May 21.
Freshman designated pitcher Summer Green slid into home for Sherwood’s third run in the top of the seventh inning. However, with Bowie batting next, a run was all it would take to at least the eighth inning.
The run never came.
Before the fateful sixth inning, the game was scoreless due to stellar defense and pitching from both sides. Outfielder errors from Bowie gave Sherwood their first two runs, while a single from junior first baseman Makayla Clay managed to bring home two runners for Bowie.
Both teams were offered opportunities throughout the match. Some innings went by without a single runner reaching a base, while others teased the prospect of breaking the nil-nil stalemate with a player on third base, waiting for an opportunity to come home.
“It’s good; it was a win. I don’t think all of us are proud; we know what we did wrong, we know what we need to work on,” said Sherwood Head Coach Ashley Barber-Strunk. “I think we have the tools to do what we need to do to compete in states.”
Senior shortstop Kennedy Thomas-Cogar almost got the first run for Bowie in the first inning but was stopped when junior third baseman Isabella Duron was caught out.
Another close call came in the second inning, when junior first baseman Hannah Bowers stole her way to third base for Sherwood, only to be stalled by Bowie when the Warriors’ batters hit fly outs. Clay was also close to scoring in the second inning, but the batter was caught out before she could reach home.
Bowers stole her way to third base again in the fourth inning after a double play by Bowie gave little room for error.
Bowie freshman pitcher Taylor Ivey caught the ball immediately after the hit, a beaming shot that took quick reflexes to stop and elicited cheers from both sides alike. Sherwood had a runner on third base again in the fifth inning, but could not get her home.
“Our team came out to show Sherwood what we had in store, and I think we did just that,” said Ivey.
In the sixth inning, Bowers got a triple off a costly fumble by Bowie’s outfield, which brought junior second baseman Kayley Bina home. Bowers ran home after a double by junior catcher Christi Mathis to round out scoring at the top of the sixth and break the scoreless stalemate.
Now trailing, Bowie needed to score to keep the game competitive in their penultimate inning. Their first and second batters were tagged out, and Ivey and senior right fielder Shaundria Jones managed to get to second and third base, respectively. It rested on Clay to bring them home, and with two strikes and three balls, she was in a tight position.
A clutch single and a fumble by Mathis at home plate allowed Ivey and Jones to come home and tie the game up.
“When I went up to bat, my main goal was to get runs and get tied or at least get up, and I felt I executed that well,” said Clay.
Now down to a decisive seventh inning, the game could have been anyone’s guess. Sherwood had one last shot to break the tie, but with Bowie at the bottom of the inning, they needed to keep the Bulldogs scoreless as well as score for themselves.
“We knew that they were a good defensive team, a good offensive team, and we just had to have confidence in ourselves and each other,” said Bina.
Green stole her way to third base, and as a batter was tagged out, Green slid into home plate to score the last run of the game for Sherwood. Bowie could not put a runner on base and ended a historic regular season just shy of the finals.
“They worked really hard this year, (I’m) really proud of them. Great group of kids: they came together as a team, they care about each other, they care about the school, they care about the team,” said Bowie Head Coach Luanne Smith.