The Severna Park softball team is picking up right where it left off.
Ten months after crowning the program in a dominant run to a state championship, the Falcons have started hot in 2019. Wins over Howard, Broadneck, Arundel and South River have the Falcons at 4-0 entering April.
“They’ve been very calm,” said head coach Meredith McAlister, asked what has stood out from the Falcons’ early-spring efforts thus far. “We haven’t gotten out to great starts in some of these games, we’ve let a couple runs on the board, but then we’ve made adjustments, they’ve made adjustments up at the plate to kind of rebound and put some more on the board and get some breathing room. They don’t really get pressured. They stay kind of level and blue-headed, and they support each other no matter what.”
Severna Park’s 10-2 win over South River at home on March 29 was a perfect example. The Seahawks got out to a 2-0 lead on two hits in the first inning, but Falcon starting pitcher Kylie Dingess settled in, surrendering just two hits over the next five innings before Kerri Kazmarek came on for the final inning.
Dingess has a more prominent role as the team’s primary starting pitcher in the wake of Marissa Heuer’s graduation last spring.
“It’s a little pressure, but I think a little pressure is good,” said Dingess. “I stay calm and trust my field and my teammates behind me. I know they’ve got my back, so I’m not focusing on strikeouts necessarily, but just getting the easy ball hit in play, fly balls.”
Offensively, the Falcons did what they do well: put constant pressure on opposing pitching staffs. They wasted no time, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first to tie the game 2-2. Emma Hall provided the day’s exclamation point, crushing a line-drive solo home run to left field in the third inning that gave Severna Park a 3-2 lead, and the Falcons rolled from there. Hall was 3-for-3 with four RBIs, while Olivia Driver had three hits as well. Campbell Kline had two hits and scored three runs, while Emily Gabbard had two hits, an RBI and a run scored; Emily Wilson had an RBI hit; and Dingess had a hit. Peyton Sullivan scored three runs.
Hall was mobbed by teammates at home plate after her home run, her own smiles and celebration somewhat muted because she didn’t initially realize her drive had cleared the fence.
“I thought they caught it,” said Hall with a laugh. “I was surprised. I just remember wanting to drive the ball.”
The win was another strong offensive showing for the Falcons, who defeated Howard 8-6, Broadneck 14-3 and Arundel 6-2. The aforementioned as well as Madison Gerrard, Rachel Holly, Viktoria Dorn, Mackenzie Rice, Abbie Iaquinta and Michaela Schindler have all contributed to Severna Park’s offensive prowess, creating a welcomed level of depth for McAlister.
“I’ve been moving a couple girls around here and there, and they’re all performing in some way that really benefits the team,” McAlister said. “That’s how you say it’s a team win. They’re all working their butts off, and they’re all contributing. Either speed or power or defense or pitching, catching, they all bring something to the table, and it’s nice to see that out of more than just nine or 10 girls. It’s nice to see that out of 14 girls. So I think it’s going to be a fun year.”
McAlister added the team has carried over its measured mentality and focus from last season. Asked if winning the state championship relieved pressure to allow the Falcons to just play relaxed, she replied it was actually the other way around.
“Last year they were the same way,” she said. “There was one game where they [were too excited], and that was up at Bachman against Chesapeake, and they ended up losing. And we talked after the game about keeping a blue head and staying level, and they really kinda took that to heart and settled back down to who they were, and we never had that issue ever again. They came back in with that same mentality this year, so that’s really nice to see.”
Dingess said as always, “there’s some pretty good competition in the county this year,” but she is confident in the Falcons’ prospects.
Hall likes where the team is: starting strong with a mind to keep working hard and improving.
“I think if we keep improving the way we are now, we have a pretty good shot to do what we did last year, but we just have to keep working at it,” Hall said.