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With the Conference 7 trophy hanging in the balance, Rebecca Martin was flummoxing Lake Braddock batters once again.

The Bruins knew how to hit Martin, but getting runs out of her hasn’t been so easy this season. The South County ace shut them out in a 13-inning affair earlier this year, stranding 16 batters in the process. She left four more on base in their next matchup before Jenna Edwards broke the stalemate with a two-run single that propelled Lake Braddock to a 4-0 win.

Martin was at it again in last Friday’s Conference 7 championship, surrendering some hits here and there but allowing no one to cross home plate through the game’s first eight innings. Then Ashley Flesch — Lake Braddock’s senior ace who was pitching a shutout of her own — stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with a chance to break the deadlock.

“I told Ashley, ‘Just focus on meeting the ball and hitting it in the gap. We don’t need a home run. Just find the gap,’” Lake Braddock coach George Rumore said.

If Flesch could find that gap, Rumore knew he would wave through Kat Plescow, an aggressive runner crouched near second base. Sure enough, Flesch pounded one through the infield, sending Plescow on a mad dash toward glory.

“That was the fastest I’ve ever run,” she said.

The Lake Braddock speedster reached the plate with time to spare, bringing teammates racing out of the dugout to revel in back-to-back Conference 7 titles.

“Anytime you beat South County — they’re such a good team and are going to go so far at regionals — it’s just unbelievable,” Flesch said.

Flesch went the distance to toss yet another shutout Friday, but South County didn’t make things easy for her. Still without senior slugger Whitney Burks, the Stallions put together five hits and might have gone ahead late if it weren’t for some spectacular plays by Emma Rakowski and the rest of the Bruin outfield.

“They got me. They were hitting me,” said Flesch, a West Chester University commit. “In the first two games, I think they were just getting used to seeing me. This game they were making good solid contact with the ball. My defense really helped me out. It’s just awesome as a pitcher having that defense behind you.”

Flesch finished with nine strikeouts, just another day in the office for the area’s most formidable defense. Lake Braddock has given up just nine runs in 22 games this year, only two of them coming against conference opponents not named South County.

South County’s run of six straight district titles ended with last year’s 4-1 defeat against Lake Braddock. The young Bruins, who carry only two seniors on their roster, are now riding a streak of their own, though they hope to take momentum further than they did after last year’s triumph. They followed that victory with a 4-2 loss against Centreville for an early exit from the region tourney, a hard lesson they’ll remember during this Friday’s regional opener against Osbourn.

“I think we know just to never be too high up,” Plescow said. “We can’t take anyone for granted, and we just have to be loud like we were today.”

neilerson@fairfaxtimes.com