Abigayle Perry’s Brunswick softball team had just concluded the most successful season in program history, falling to Bohemia Manor in the 2019 state semifinals.
Being a junior whose productive bat, keen base running and glove at shortstop helped the Railroaders win their first regional title, she was ready for more.
“I’m expecting big things next year,” Perry said. “We’re losing four seniors, but this team works hard, and I think we can go just as far.”
Nearly a year after saying those words, Perry still feels the same way, even though unforeseen events prevented her prediction from coming true.
Like every other spring sports team in Frederick County, Brunswick’s softball team saw its 2020 season get canceled by the coronavirus pandemic.
And like every other senior athlete in the county, Perry never got the chance to finish her career, one that saw her improve each and every year since cracking the starting lineup as a promising freshman.
“This was my last hurrah,” she said. “It was my time.”
She no longer needed to prove herself to people who thought she was too small (she is 5-foot-1) to play shortstop.
She had already secured her softball future, signing to play at Mount St. Mary’s.
Perry just wanted to help her team return to the state semis, where they gave Bohemia Manor — and star pitcher Madison Penta — a good tussle last year.
“That’s what we were coming back for this year,” she said. “That was going to be our time to make even more history.”
Perry was one of three seniors on this year’s Brunswick team. The others, Zaidee Byrd and Brianna Munday, also plan to play college softball.
When Perry arrived at Brunswick High, the team was coming off a two-win season. She was one of the players who helped forge a turnaround.
By her freshman year, Perry was already a travel softball veteran. With a mother who played the sport and male family members who played baseball, she was an avid student of the game, allowing her to maximize a natural gift that became a hallmark.
Possessing speed since she was a kid, Perry watched softball and baseball games on TV to pick up pointers that could help make her speed all-the-more lethal on the basepaths.
An extra base here, an extra base there. It can make all the difference in a game.
“When I’m on first base, I’m studying all the infielders and outfielders, where they’re positioned,” she said. “So if a ball gets hit somewhere, I know what I’m going to do when that happens.”
She hasn’t made a habit out of waiting for the ball to be hit, though.
As a sophomore in 2018, Perry set Brunswick’s single-season stolen base record with 25. She also holds the team’s career stolen base record with 58, a total that likely would’ve swelled if she played at all this year.
“Not only is she quick, but to be a good baserunner, you have to have awareness, and she has that,” Brunswick coach Kevan Rabat said. “Between the speed and her base-running awareness, she’s able to do a lot of things on the bases.”
Rabat said Perry had no qualms about putting in the extra time to take her game to the next level. Her mother, Mary Domer, witnessed the same quality.
“She can’t make herself any taller, but she can make herself faster and she can make herself stronger,” Domer said. “And those are the things that she’s focused on ... being driven and going to the gym and working and doing those things to control the things that you can control.”
Despite being one of the smaller players on the field, Perry isn’t intimidated, not even going up against a hard-throwing ace like Penta.
In last year’s state semis, Perry hit a two-run single off the pitcher, who brought a 0.00 ERA into the game, helping the Railroaders put up a fight in their 4-2 loss.
She batted .415 last season as Brunswick’s leadoff hitter, while also continuing to man the shortstop spot she locked down as a freshman. Perry credits Terry Burdette, her coach with the Frederick Heartbreakers travel team, with helping her progress at that prominent position.
Perry drew interest from several college teams. Her 4.0 GPA sure didn’t hurt her stock. She said UMBC, Albany, Iona, Virginia Wesleyan, and McDaniel were among schools that showed interest.
But for Perry, the Mount was tough to beat because it was located in her native Frederick County.
“Ultimately it came down to still being a part of my community,” Perry said. “Another big thing was my family being able to come to my games. I always had a big fan-base with them. They’ve always come to my games to support me, so the fact that they could still do that was really important.”
Due to the coronavirus shutdown, Perry’s options for remaining in softball shape have been limited. Still, she hit into a net, ran and worked out with weights.
She’s hoping to play with her 18U Gold Heartbreakers team in national tournament in Oklahoma City.
“I hope that tournament doesn’t get canceled, because we have the opportunity to play where they play the women’s College World Series is,” she said. “And for someone that loves softball and is as competitive as I am, that is a really big opportunity that so many people don’t get.”
By now, opportunities people Perry’s age usually get have already been canceled, annual rituals like a prom and graduation ceremonies. For Perry, the latter would have been at the Mount, giving her a chance to end one chapter of her life at a place where she’ll begin another.
“To have that experience taken, where I’ll be continuing my education and softball career,” she said, “that’s kind of what upset me the most.”