WILLIAMSPORT — Alexis Stone was not at all happy with her first two at-bats against Allegany on Friday in the Class 1A West championship.
Brunswick’s senior left fielder found herself impatient, chasing bad pitches early, striking out in the third and fifth. Her stance was all wrong.
With one out and the score tied in the top of the seventh inning, Stone had had just about enough of her shortcomings. She adjusted her stance, ripping a double to deep right center field, well over the head of Allegany’s Kirsten Twigg. Her blast scored pinch-runner Samantha Stephens for the go-ahead run.
Stone later scored on an error. Brunswick then retired the Campers in order in the bottom of the seventh, giving the Railroaders their first regional softball championship in school history, a 3-1 win at Kemp’s Mill Softball Complex.
“I had to make a change,” Stone said of her first two trips to the plate. “I was waiting too much on the ball. I had to go out and attack the ball. I did a much, much better job this time around.”
With Friday’s win, Brunswick makes its first trip to the state softball semifinals, where the Railroaders (16-4) face defending Class 1A champion Bohemia Manor, of Cecil County, at 4 p.m. on Tuesday at Bachman Softball Complex (Field 6) in Glen Burnie.
The Eagles defeated Cambridge-South Dorchester 4-1 in the Class 1A East final Friday.
The Railroaders struck first, scoring in the first when Brianna Munday laid down a sacrifice bunt. Abigayle Perry was on second, and she ran with the pitch, rounded third and beat the throw home.
The Campers tied the score at 1-1 in the second on a one-out solo home run by Lindsey Evix. From there, the game remained deadlocked until the seventh.
Kelsie Laing drew a walk with one out in the top of the seventh. Katie Laing flew out to first. Stone stepped into the batter’s box, ripping her double to right-center.
Stephens raced around third in plenty of time to score the go-ahead run.
“Alexis is one of four seniors on the team,” Brunswick coach Kevan Rabat said. “That hit was special to her. This win was special for those seniors.”
Friday’s win was another benchmark in a softball program that, for many years, had been bogged down in mediocracy. Prior to Rabat’s arrival, there were seasons when Brunswick won just one or two games, even though previous teams had some talent.
But Rabat refuses to take much credit for the team’s turnaround over the past three years. He has enjoyed watching his team mature over the years.
“They did it,” Rabat said. “They did all the work. They play together as a team. They look out for each other. They’ve bought into the program. This is a softball family. You can have a bunch of good players, but if you don’t play as a team, things don’t work out.”
Perry, a junior shortstop, has seen the progress.
“This is a much better team than two years ago,” she said. “We’ve come a long way.”
Friday’s game also featured a pitcher’s duel. Katie Laing pitched a three-hitter with five strikeouts, three walks and a hit batter. She didn’t take any unnecessary chances with her pitches, instead working on precision with her locations.
“I wanted to hit the corners,” Laing said. “My screwball and curveball were working pretty well. I also threw in a riser here and there.”
Allegany’s Kyra Pittman hurled a two-hitter with seven strikeouts, one walk and a hit batter.