At the start of the season, Dulaney High softball coach Dave Barwick believed he had a team capable of playing for the Baltimore County championship. It didn’t happen, but the Lions will be playing on the penultimate day of the spring.
Dulaney defeated No. 15 Broadneck, 7-2, in the Class 4A state semifinals Tuesday evening at Bachmann Park. The Lions (16-4 overall) are headed to the University of Maryland this weekend along with top-ranked and undefeated Reservoir (3A) and No. 4 Rising Sun (2A), which is returning for the second straight year.
Dulaney, whose previous state semifinal appearance was 20 years ago, finds itself a win away from the 4A state title after an impressive showing. Senior center fielder Ava Morrow had two hits, two RBI and scored twice and Kayla Bright and Carly Desi each finished 2-for-3.
The Timonium school scored in all six-at bats, including a pivotal late response, to advance to College Park. In the final game of the state public softball season, Dulaney will play Urbana of Frederick County, Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
The Lions last played in a state final in 2001.
With a talented group of freshmen joining the varsity, Barwick knew the program would be on a promising trajectory.
“I knew what I was getting, did I know I would put four freshmen in the field and have them be successful, no,” said Barwick. “I thought I had a better chance of winning counties than getting this far in the tournament. They’re gelling and playing great softball. They don’t make many mistakes.”
“I did not believe it. I knew our team had talent, but whether or not we would put it together was the big question,” said Morrow. “We’ve done it together, we’ve made it happen and I’m really proud of us.”
Morrow believed Dulaney’s fortunes began to turn after beating then-defending Baltimore County champ Catonsville late in the regular season. The Lions followed up with a 6-0 decision in the North Region I semifinals last week. Dulaney rolled past Perry Hall (10-0; region final) and Prince George’s County’s Laurel in the state quarterfinals to advance to Bachmann.
Playing under the bright lights in Glen Burnie, the moment wasn’t too big. The Lions scored a run in the first five innings, including Morrow, who sent an opposite shot over the left centerfield fence in the third. Morrow, who pitched the first inning, and Lilly Tinker held Broadneck without a hit through five innings.
Broadneck (15-6), playing in its first state semifinals since 2010 when it completed a back-to-back 4A championship run, got two-out RBI singles from Alicenna Weibley and Mara Gilkey to pull to 5-2. The Anne Arundel County school tried to pull a double steal but freshman catcher Carly Desi faked the throw to second as Weibley broke down the third baseline. Desi tagged out Weibley at home on a throw from third basemen Kimani Dennis.
The Bruins got a leadoff double from Hailey Adamson and a Abby Favazza walk to start the seventh. Dennis, also a freshman, nabbed Malayna Owens’ liner and doubled off courtesy runner Samatha Sprouse at first.
“As we continue to move on, so has our confidence,” said Dennis. “We know that we can do this.”
After being silent, Broadneck made a charge, getting the tying run at the plate with no outs in the seventh. Gilkey and Weibley each produced a hit and scored a run Tuesday.
With only one senior in the starting lineup, Bruins coach Beth Mackel has a lot to build off.
“It was very important for them to get this experience,” Mackel said. “This is the first time for most of them to be here. They’re competitors, and they want to win. They’re young, and they’ll be back.”
Barwick is aware the Lions’ next challenge will be its biggest in Urbana, which ended Montgomery County powerhouse Sherwood’s reign in the other semifinal, 2-0, Tuesday night. Sherwood has won seven 4A championships since 2012.
“This has come out of nowhere,” said Barwick, “but I think I got the team that can do it.”
CLASS 4A STATE SOFTBALL SEMIFINAL
at Bachmann Park
DULANEY 7, NO. 15 BROADNECK 2
Broadneck 000 002 0 - 2 5 0
Dulaney 111 112 x - 7 11 0
Waters, Adamson (4) and Favazza; Tinkler and Desi
2B: Broadneck - Adamson; Dulaney - Desi, Bright