August 18, 2018
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  • The Falcons completed a dominant playoff run on May 26, defeating Northwest 13-0 to win the 4A state championship at the University of Maryland.
    Photo by Colin Murphy
    The Falcons completed a dominant playoff run on May 26, defeating Northwest 13-0 to win the 4A state championship at the University of Maryland.

Champions Crowned: Severna Park Softball Soars To 4A State Championship

Colin Murphy
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June 13, 2018

Having made it all the way to the state final, the Severna Park softball girls had to play well to make the most of their opportunity and finish the job.

They did so in historically dominant fashion.

The Falcons completed a practically flawless playoff run in the 4A state championship game at the University of Maryland on May 26, decimating Northwest 13-0 in 4.5 innings in the largest margin of victory in 4A finals history to end the year 24-2 overall, alone atop Maryland as 4A state champions.

The Falcons’ Marissa Heuer pitched her final gem in a senior season full of them, allowing only two hits and striking out five to earn the victory. Campbell Kline, Emily Summers, Madison Gerard and Kylie Dingess had two hits apiece; Kline drove in three runs and scored twice; Heuer and Jessie Smith had two RBIs each; and the Severna Park offense roared to life in a five-run third inning and an eight-run fourth inning, with every Falcons starter having at least one hit and the Falcons totaling 13 hits on the day.

Severna Park’s defense committed no errors and made several sharp plays in the field in rounding out a performance that characteristically employed the efforts of every individual player to capture one of the all-time great wins in school history.

“The chemistry is all there. We all love each other to death,” said Kline, a junior. “Every single person on this team has something to contribute. We all contributed tonight. Everyone did their job, and I just couldn’t have asked for a better team to win states with.”

Head coach Meredith McAlister, in her 12th season leading the program, was proud to see the players fulfill their roles as expected and win the program’s third state title (1987, 2003).

“Before every game we say, ‘Don’t try to be a hero. Just do what you’re supposed to do, what the team needs out of you.’ They did that today,” said McAlister, who said the team continued to build momentum with each playoff opponent. “We got the right teams to get us ready, they all gave us their best game, and we slowly rose to the occasion, and then we just hit it out of the park tonight.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Severna Park softball vs. Northwest, 4A state championship game

After waiting out a three-hour rain delay, the Falcons took the field with a cool-as-can-be confidence, smiling, laughing and high-fiving their way onto the field with an upbeat energy they carried palpably throughout the game. Heuer gave up a leadoff hit, but she got two strikeouts to close the first inning, setting the tone for an afternoon in which Northwest never mounted a serious scoring threat at any point.

The Falcon offense was sparked to life in the third inning by the bottom of the order. Gerard doubled, and Emily Gabbard followed with a single. Up came Kline, who belted a triple to stake Severna Park to a two-run lead.

Smith followed with a hit to score Kline, and Summers made contact to drop a hit into the shallow outfield to score Smith for a 4-0 lead. Dingess reached base with a hit and came around to score on a bunt by Gerard. The Falcons had batted around, and Severna Park led 5-0.

In the fourth inning, the Falcons poured it on, collecting more base hits and capitalizing on Northwest errors to keep runners circling the bases. Kline led off with a triple, then scored on a Smith grounder to make it 6-0. After a couple of Northwest errors, catcher Abby Becker singled to make it 7-0. Emma Hall and Summers singled in the inning, Northwest committed multiple errors on hard grounders, and Heuer drove in two runners with a base hit. By the end of the frame, Severna Park held a 13-0 lead and was in line for a mercy-rule win.

Heuer went back to the circle and pitched a one-two-three fifth, getting the final out on a grounder to first, where Smith scooped it up and tagged the batter just in front of the bag. The Falcons came charging in from the field and dugout and embraced between the circle and home plate.

Heuer, who missed her sophomore season with an ACL tear, came back from injury to steadily improve as a junior and senior, culminating in the state championship game with her fifth shutout and 21st win of the season.

“It’s just so awesome. We played so well today. The defense had my back,” said Heuer. “I’m glad they had so much confidence in me. They’re all my best friends. They’re with me through thick and thin. I’m out there crying happy tears and sad tears. It’s hard to leave, but ending like this is awesome.”

Becker, a rock defensively all season as the team’s catcher and a major offensive contributor, said the team was not shy to the moment of the championship game, and the long rain delay had no draining effect on their mentality.

“When we got on the field, we were calm, cool and collected,” said Becker. “We didn’t let the big stadium or being at Maryland affect us … This is the best way to go out. There could not be a better way. We tried so many years, and we’re finally here.”

Retrospectively, the win was a well-earned coronation of a simply outstanding season and playoff run. The team closed the season on a 13-game win streak, last losing to Chesapeake in a much-hyped Friday-night showdown on April 20. Severna Park rebounded to beat Chesapeake for the county championship on May 8, then proceeded to burn through the 4A East by outscoring the opposition 18-1 in wins over Arundel, Glen Burnie and South River, with the latter two wins coming in a Monday doubleheader in which Heuer pitched all 14 innings to help the Falcons claim the region crown.

From there, all the Falcons did was torch the state tournament, playing the minimum 10 total innings to defeat C.H. Flowers and Northwest by a combined 23-0 score.

In total, Severna Park outscored its playoff opponents 41-1.

Smith, a senior and the Falcons’ first baseman, said the team just focused on the task at hand, instead of looking down the line to potential opponents, and said the Falcons made the most of their collective ability.

“If you just glance at our team, you wouldn’t think, ‘Oh, they’re just a powerhouse all-around,’” said Smith. “But that just shows our humility and how hard we work. We know it’s a team effort.”

Kline produced a record-setting season, amassing an astounding 69 hits to shatter the previous single-season state record of 59 set in 2012 by Northern’s Lindsey Schmeiser and finishing the year with an unheard-of .750 average in 104 plate appearances.

“The key for me is everything I’ve learned through my coaches and teammates,” said Kline, who helped the Falcons win the state crown on the same field at the University of Maryland where she will play her college softball. “They teach me new things every day. They’re always there for me and helping me out with things I might not know. I couldn’t ask for better mentors.”

McAlister noted the team’s ability to “keep a blue head” — stay even-keeled during highs and lows — and said it was satisfying to come out on top after years of having excellent teams that could have put a state run together.

But with many Severna Park softball graduates and families cheering on the Falcons in their championship win, McAlister reflected even more proudly on the culture and shared bonds of the program.

“Yeah, you want to win, and we’ve had great teams,” said McAlister. “We have so many girls here supporting. They love this team because it meant so much to them when they played. That’s what you’re trying to build. It doesn’t matter how far you go, necessarily. It matters how much it means to you, how much the girls mean to you, how much playing the game means to you. They’re all back here because they love each other, they love playing for Severna Park and they want to support them. That almost means more than anything.”

The 2018 4A state champion Severna Park softball players are Marissa Heuer, Campbell Kline, Emily Summers, Madison Gerard, Kylie Dingess, Jessie Smith, Emily Gabbard, Emma Hall, Abby Becker, Rachel Holly, Mackenzie Rice, Emily Wilson, Michaela Schindler, Ella Ryan, Kerri Kazmarek and Peyton Sullivan. They are coached by Meredith McAlister, assistant coaches Kristofer Dean and Kelly Burke, and JV coaches Ashley Chafin and Eric Sherman. The Falcons’ team manager is Dylan Davidoff, and their certified athletic trainer is Christine Safrit.

PHOTO GALLERY: Severna Park softball vs. Northwest, 4A state championship game


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