THURMONT — Few players on the Catoctin High softball team embody coach Jess Valentine’s mantra of shaking it off and moving on to the next play better than Ashley Mayton.
Asked to leave center field and endure the heat and scrutiny of the pitching circle, Mayton did so without hesitation.
“She is one of the best outfielders I’ve ever coached. It hurts taking her out of the outfield,” Valentine said. “But she is a big element to our success this season [in the circle].”
If she makes a bad pitch or doesn’t have her best stuff, Mayton has full confidence that her defense will pick up the slack.
Or if she makes a good pitch and the umpire doesn’t give her the call, “you have to work around it,” she said.
On Monday, Mayton surrendered a home run to the first batter she faced, Brunswick’s Abigayle Perry. But instead of letting the moment get the best of her or knock her off track, Mayton buckled down and propelled the Cougars to a 7-3 victory over the visiting Railroaders.
“A lot of pitchers want to do it themselves. They try too hard to be perfect,” Valentine said. “But she knows it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s OK to give up a big hit every once in a while. It’s going to happen.”
Following the initial home run, Mayton surrendered just five hits over the ensuing seven innings and also struck out five.
Brunswick (5-2) added two runs in the third inning on an RBI double by Daisy Gardner but wound up leaving the bases loaded after Mayton struck out back-to-back batters.
“We didn’t hit,” Railroaders coach Kevan Rabat said. “You’ve got to show up and play with fire, and we didn’t have any fire today. We were flat, and we didn’t hit.”
Catoctin (7-0) provided Mayton with plenty of support.
The Cougars took the lead in the bottom of the first inning on a two-run homer to left-center by Madi Tobery.
Tobery bats in the clean-up spot because she is very difficult to strike out and typically puts the ball in play, according to Valentine.
When Tobery is swinging the bat well, it’s very difficult for teams to pitch around Raegan Smith in the No. 3 spot and, hence, makes Catoctin more difficult to beat.
Smith got a pitch she liked in the third inning and crushed a two-run homer to left field that put the Cougars back in front at 4-3.
“That was gone,” Mayton said. “I got up [to celebrate] before it even went over the fence.”
Catoctin broke the game open in the bottom of the sixth. Tobery hit her second homer of the game, another two-run blast, while Jessica Wood and pinch hitter Cassidy Andrew each delivered RBI singles as part of the three-run frame.
“We did our job,” Valentine said. “What we preach is have good at-bats and make ‘em earn it. We didn’t even make ‘em earn it all today. But, if we do our job, everything will take care of itself.”