Ashley Mayton

Mayton

After Tuesday’s game, Catoctin pitcher Ashley Mayton had ice on her right shoulder and ice on her left knee.

Apparently, she also had a little ice in her veins.

With little margin for error in her pitchers duel against Urbana’s Spencer Rupinta, Mayton had runners in scoring position during four different innings.

But each time, she stayed calm and overcame the threats.

Mayton threw a four-hit shutout and drove in the game’s first two runs with a single in the fifth inning, leading the Cougars to a 3-0 win over Urbana in the Central Maryland Conference softball championship game.

This was an ideal tuneup for both teams as they head into the postseason. Two top-notch teams — Urbana (14-4) won the CMC Spires title, Catoctin (19-2) won the Gambrill crown — facing a tough pitcher in front of a big crowd.

The game stayed scoreless until Mayton pulled a two-run single to right in the bottom of the fifth. As big as that hit was, her ability to dodge danger in the pitchers circle loomed just as large.

“It was definitely evident, when they got on base, she didn’t get flustered,” Cougars coach Jessica Valentine said.

Urbana got runners in scoring position in the first, second, fourth and sixth innings. Mayton snuffed out two of those rallies with inning-ending strikeouts, and her rock-solid infield ended the other two threats with putouts.

“She has gotten a lot more tough throughout the season,” Valentine said. “She was battling the zone and trying to figure out where she had to put it, but Ashley trusts her defense.”

That trust seemed well-placed in the second, when third baseman Raegan Smith fielded a sac bunt attempt and fired a bullet to nab the lead runner at second base, then later ended the inning on a 5-3 putout.

“At the end of the day, a nothing-nothing ballgame, you’re not going to finish that way,” Urbana coach Frank Husson said. “We have to score runs, we had our opportunities. They made the defensive plays when they had to to keep us from pushing a couple runs across.”

Mayton ended Urbana’s threat in the fourth with an inning-ending strikeout, stranding runners on first and third.

“Ashley pitched a whale of a ballgame, was in the strike zone the whole game,” Husson said.

Husson praised his own pitcher, too, after she kept Catoctin’s hard-hitting lineup from doing its usual damage.

“To hold a team like Catoctin to three runs is a huge accomplishment,” he said.

Rupinta finished with eight strikeouts, including one apiece against Courtney Eyler — who has led all Frederick County Public Schools players in batting average — and Smith, the county’s home run leader.

“Spencer shut us down there at the beginning. She had a lot of swing and misses, which we don’t typically do,” Valentine said.

Mayton said the Urbana pitcher was throwing a lot of curves and dropballs.

“Her [pitches] never really went straight, they always broke in some way,” Mayton said.

But the Cougars broke through in the fifth. Rachel Fox started the rally with a single to right-center, and pinch hitter Cierra Cook reached on a well-placed bunt that bounced off the third baseman’s foot.

Eyler’s full-bunt single loaded the bases to set the stage for Mayton, who switched from batting right-handed to left-handed years ago to make use of her speed. After her single, Smith had an RBI single that bounced off Rupinta’s glove.

The Cougars are known more for homers than infield hits, but they took what they could get against a tough pitcher like Rupinta.

“Courtney and Raegan’s last two hits, they weren’t missiles like they usually hit,” Valentine said. “But they had good at-bats and kept fighting and got the job done.”

Like Valentine, Husson thought this type of hard-fought game would help prepare his team for the postseason.

“I was pleased that we came out and played a team with this level of competition going into the playoffs,” he said. “This will hopefully get us ready for the playoffs next week. Hopefully both teams advance pretty far and maybe bring back some more hardware for Frederick County.”

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