The future continues to be now for Northeast High’s softball team. The third-ranked Eagles defeated No. 11 Arundel, 4-1, in an Anne Arundel County contest Monday afternoon in Pasadena.
Freshman shortstop Brynn Jones went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI for Northeast, and Presley McGinty struck out eight. Maddie Hamolia drove in Arundel’s only run.
The Eagles (11-1 overall) broke a scoreless tie in the fourth and added two insurance runs in the sixth to improve to remain the lone unbeaten (7-0) in Anne Arundel. The top two teams in the league standings will play for the league championship in a few weeks.
With a combined eight freshman and sophomores in the starting nine, Northeast is setting the pace in arguably the area’s toughest softball league. The Eagles have a combined five wins over Baltimore Banner/VSN Top 15 squads Chesapeake-Anne Arundel (twice), No. 5 Crofton (twice) and Arundel.
The so-called learning curve has been mostly non-existent.
“I just hope I don’t screw it up, they know how to play the game,” said longtime Northeast coach Joe Hart. “The one thing we preach is make the routine plays…they’re young and we got to remember that they’re young, but they’re good ball players. You don’t have freshmen and sophomores at this quality, you usually give them a year or two.”
“We have a lot of trust in them,” said Eagles centerfielder Caitlyn Cornwell, one of two seniors on the Eagles’ roster. “They don’t play like freshmen.”
Sophomore rightfielder Leprohon had an RBI and sophomores Tyler Castle (catcher) and Kayleigh Fyffe (third base) each had a hit for Northeast. Madison Burris and McGinty, both freshman, each recorded a hit.
McGinty allowed a run on three hits and walked three, two coming in the seventh. With the tying run at the plate, she nabbed Keira Linville’s comebacker and threw the ball to sophomore first basemen Mackenzie Weiland to end it.
“I knew I had my defense behind me,” said McGinty.
Northeast’s offense was muted the first three innings, but Cornwell changed that in a couple of pitches in the fourth. The University of Maryland recruit slapped the ball through the middle of the infield and into center for a leadoff single.
On the next pitch, Cornwell took off for second to steal and the throw bounced past Arundel’s shortstop into centerfield. The Wildcats’ throw to get Cornwell at third missed the mark and Cornwell sprinted home for the game’s first run.
Jones legged out an infield single to start the fifth, and Fyffe pushed her to second with a sacrifice bunt. With two outs, LePhron got Jones home with a single to right.
Arundel (10-2, 6-2 Anne Arundel) cut the margin to 2-1 in the sixth as Hamolia’s single to left scored Kendall Cribbs, but the Eagles would answer in the bottom half.
Burris opened with an opposite field single to right, and, courtesy of a passed ball and Jenna Burroughs’ sac bunt, reached third. Burris scored as Jones beat out a ground ball for an infield single.
Jones advanced to second on Fyffe’s single, but another Arundel mishap on the throw-in allowed Jones to cross home plate with Northeast’s fourth run.
Jones said playing travel ball the last few years with her young teammates have made the transition to high school smooth.
“The pace and speed has helped,” said Jones.
“They have a young team but they’re also very experienced playing high-level travel ball since they were very young,” said Arundel coach Lisa Mills, whose team has dropped back-to-back decisions (lost to Crofton Thursday) after a 10-0 start. “They have a lot more experience than my girls, even if they’re a year or two older.”
Hart said last week’s loss to Southern Maryland’s Chopticon (14-5) was a learning experience for his young squad which is on the ground floor in terms of its vast ceiling. Most of the roster first started playing softball together in youth leagues in Pasadena.
“To have the speed and the fundamental soundness is a godsend,” said Hart. “The way they’ve gel has been impressive.”
NO. 3 NORTHEAST 4, NO. 11 ARUNDEL 1
Arundel 000 001 0 - 1 3 2
Northeast 000 011 2 - 4 8 1
Bristol and Hamolia; McGinty and Castle
2B: Arundel - Bristol; Northeast - Leprohon