From the moment Sherwood High School softball coach Pat Flanagan described her team before the season as having an “embarrassment of riches,” it was clear this group faced extraordinary expectations.
Undefeated regular season? That’s nice.
Region title? Fine and dandy.
Trip to the University of Maryland for the state final? Sure.
But none of that was enough.
“My approach was, ‘You can get to Maryland, but are you going to be satisfied with getting there, or do you want to win?’” Flanagan said.
Her players wanted to win -- so badly, in fact, they overcame a shaky performance and willed themselves to a 1-0 victory over Chesapeake-Anne Arundel in Friday’s 4A state final to completed a 21-0 season. The championship, both Sherwood softball’s and Flanagan’s first, is Montgomery County’s first softball state title since 1999, when Gaithersburg claimed the 4A crown.
“We kind of tripped over ourselves last year,” said Flanagan, whose team lost to Montgomery Blair in last season’s 4A West championship game. “And this year, come hook or crook, they weren’t going to let that happen.”
They came close, though.
Pitcher Meggie Dejter walked two hitters in the first inning, hit a batter in the second, hit another and allowed two singles in the third and allowed a leadoff double in the fourth.
Catcher Rae Harrison threw a ball into centerfield attempting to throw out a runner who had a free pass to second base due to a walk.
Second baseman Emily Hughes forgot to tag a runner and get a double play, throwing straight to first instead.
But the uncharacteristic mistakes from a team that had won every game by at least three runs and boasted an average score of 10-1, also brought out Sherwood's best. Backed into a corner because of its miscues, Sherwood also made several key plays to finish its season right.
Dejter struck out six hitters and allowed no runs.
Harrison quickly recovered a wild pitch and lunged at the plate to tag out a runner attempting to score from third. That ended the third inning, which saw Chesapeake (20-6) load the bases.
And Hughes led off the sixth win a single -- not realizing she had broken up Crystal White’s no-hitter -- and eventually scored on an error.
“I’ll take it any way we can get it,” Flanagan said.
And, according to Flanagan, this team needed it. A trip to the state final and a 20-1 record would satisfy some teams, but not hers.
“This is their Super Bowl. This is their Stanley Cup. This is their whatever, World Series,” Flanagan said. “So, yeah, you’d be disappointed. Because who remembers the division champion? They remember the state champion. That’s what we wanted to be -- remembered.”
Sherwood 1, Chesapeake 0
Sherwood 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Chesapeake 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Sherwood pitchingMeggie Dejter 7 innings, 0 runs, 5 hits, 6 strikeouts, 2 walks, 2 hit by pitches
Sherwood battingAmelia Niak 0-for-3
Nicole Stockinger 0-for-3
Kristen Holonich 0-for-3
Kelsey Lineberger 1-for-3
Megan McDonough 1-for-3
Sara Sabry 0-for-3Rae Harrison 0-for-3
Emily Hughes 1-for-2, sacrifice bunt
Juliana McClurkin 0-for-1
Addie Armbruster 0-for-0, sacrifice bunt