When the first two Urbana High School batters reached base in Friday's 3A West Region softball final, it looked like second-seeded Linganore was in trouble.
As it turned out, the Lancers' troubles were just about over. Linganore senior pitcher Tori Brown retired the next three hitters, the Lancers struck for four runs in the bottom of the first inning, and Linganore cruised to a 10-0 win a game that was halted after 4 1/2 innings due to the 10-run rule.
Linganore (19-3) advances to the state semifinals where it will meet Baltimore County's Eastern Tech, which won the 3A North Region title on Friday with a 4-2 win against North Harford. The Linganore-Eastern Tech game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Bachman Park in Glen Burnie.
Fourth-seeded Urbana, which won the state 4A title last season seeking its fourth consecutive region title, finished the season at 13-11.
“I think we were energized throughout the entire game,” Brown said. “Urbana's always a huge game whenever we play them and it just pumps us up more.”
The teams split a pair of games during the season, and on Friday Brown did her part to nail down the rubber match. Pitching one day after throwing seven innings in a semifinal win against Seneca Valley, she allowed only five baserunners. She finished with three strikeouts and didn't allow a walk.
“I think I just had to find the umpire's strike zone and get the feel for the plate,” Brown said of her first inning.
“Tori always does great. We pump each other up, pitcher-catcher. That's what we do,” said Brown's catcher, Madison Ambush. “She did very well. I'm proud of her.”
The Lancers' offense caught an early break and capitalized.
With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Michelle DeShazor reached base when Urbana's catcher dropped didn't hold on to the third strike. Brown and Kathy Gambrell followed with singles to load the bases. After a strikeout, Sarah Munsch walked to push across the first run of the game. Megan Kelly then drew a walk to make it 2-0 and Ambush capped the inning with a two-run single.
“I was just thinking, 'Breathe. I can't get nervous, I've got to do good,'” Ambush said of the at-bat. “I just wanted to help everyone out.”
Aided by a solid infield and a diving catch by Alex Bullard in right field, Brown cruised through the next three innings.
Linganore broke the game open in bottom of the fourth. With one out and the bases loaded, Gambrell was hit by a pitch. Katelyn Kosar then doubled, driving in two more runs to make it 7-0. Munsch and Kelly followed with RBI singles and the final Lancer run scored on an error.
After the Hawks failed to score in the top of the fifth, the game was over.
The Lancers collected 10 hits off Urbana starter Alexa Murphy, including two each from Gambrell and Bullard.
“That's always nice to see,” Brown said of the offensive output. “I love it when we have days like this.”
Linganore 10, Urbano 0
Urbana (13-11) 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 3 2
Linganore (19-3) 4 0 0 6 x — 10 11 1
WP — Tori Brown. LP — Alexa Murphy. 2B: Linganore — Katelyn Kosar. RBI: Linganore — Madison Ambush 2, Kosar 2, Sarah Munsch 2, Megan Kelly 2, Holly Gambrell 1.