Allegany, Boonsboro battle for 1A softball championship today

May 25—COLLEGE PARK — They say perfection is unattainable, but Allegany is a win away from a second flawless season in three years and another championship.

Third-seeded Allegany (21-0) ended one team's bid at immortality, downing previously unbeaten Mardela (24-1) in the semifinals Tuesday, and it'll try to cap of an undefeated season of its own with a triumph over top-seeded Boonsboro (22-1) in the Class 1A state championship game today.

The contest at the University of Maryland has a first pitch of 1 p.m.

"That was our goal after losing in the quarterfinals last year," Allegany head coach Dave Winner said of the Campers' run to the title game. "The girls got together and started to work out in the weight room the next day to get back. I put most of that on our four seniors to be good leaders."

Allegany is making its sixth state championship game appearance and is 3-2 in those contests. It won titles in 2022, 2010 and 1990 and was a runner-up in 2021 and 2017.

Five starters on this Allegany team are trying to capture their second championship in three years.

Ace Abi Britton (Penn State), catcher Riley Gallagher (UMBC), first baseman Kylie Hook and outfielder Sky Porter, all seniors, and junior shortstop Mackenzie Monahan (Frostburg State) started in the 2022 title game, a 3-2 Allegany win over Patterson Mill that capped an 18-0 season.

Gallagher will be catching in her third championship bout in four years. She was also the backstop for the Campers' Kyra Pittman, now at the University of Pittsburgh, in a 4-1 loss to Patterson Mill for the 2021 title.

Winner hopes that experience comes in handy against Boonsboro, which is making its second appearance in the title game in school history. The Warriors were runner-ups in 2016 and fell in the 2022 semifinals.

"It's definitely a huge advantage to have played there before," said Winner, who is 57-2 in three years at the helm. "They'll know what to expect."

Britton delivered a dazzling performance to pitch Allegany past Mardela in the semifinals and hit a solo home run in the first inning for the West Sider's lone run.

The right-hander escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the sixth inning with three straight strikeouts and fanned the side in the seventh to lift the Campers to the championship game with a 1-0 win.

On the year, Britton has a 17-0 record and has allowed just one earned run on 24 hits in 95 innings for a 0.07 earned-run average. The senior has struck out 235 and walked just six.

Britton also leads Allegany at the plate with a .610 batting average, 10 home runs, 11 doubles, 32 RBIs and 18 runs scored.

She leads a brigade of six Campers batting at least .300, joined by freshman Desi Hilton (.500), Gallagher (.470), Monahan (.429), Porter (.388) and Hook (.321). Sophomore Jordyn Sneathen just missed the mark with a .294 average.

Allegany has a team .378 average and has 169 runs in 19 games (8.9 per game) and allowed just five (0.3). Boonsboro has scored 298 runs in 23 games (13.0 per game) and surrendered 47 (2.0) — more than Britton has allowed in her three-year career.

Boonsboro defeated Francis Scott Key, 3-1, in its state semifinal game. The Warriors were out-hit 6-4 but drew five walks and rode Addison Tyler in the circle (7 IP, 0 ER, 6 hits, 7 Ks, 1 BB) to make its second title appearance.

"We got to play for one in 2016 and lost in extra innings down at the University of Maryland," said Boonsboro head coach Mark Wadel, who is 160-17-1 in 12 years. "We're super excited."

Before 2020, Allegany and Boonsboro, a Washington County school, would've had to go through one another in the West Region playoffs to make the state tournament — which began in the semifinal round.

Maryland has since gone away from the four-region format to include eight subregions, with states adding an additional quarterfinal stage. Allegany was the West Region I champion and Boonsboro won West Region II this year.

"The state changed that rule a couple years ago, and I think it's brilliant," Wadel said. "Had we had to play in the region finals and one didn't get there, that kinda cheats one of those two teams."

Boonsboro had to topple a Division 1 pitcher to get to the title game, as Francis Scott Key's Jasmine Kline is committed to Quinnipiac University. Kline allowed a two-run single to Sage Haller during a three-run first inning but kept the Warriors scoreless over the final five frames.

Haller (Frostburg State) is one of five Boonsboro players who will play softball at the next level. She's joined by Haylee Hartman (Shepherd), Sydney Hartle (Wilson), Zoe Hartman (Penn State-Mont Alto) and Ava Nelson (Millersville).

Nelson, a senior, and Tyler, a sophomore, are the Warriors' top two arms.

Nelson is 12-0 with a 2.23 ERA, allowing 58 hits in 69 1/3 innings with 62 strikeouts to eight walks. Tyler is 9-1 with a 1.98 ERA and has given up 38 hits in 56 2/3 frames with 82 Ks and eight walks.

"We've seen everything throughout the year," Winner said of Boonsboro's pitching. "I feel like if we play our game, Abi throws well and we play good defense, we have a decent chance."

Hartman, the team's center-fielder, has a .574 batting average with eight home runs, 38 RBIs and 37 runs scored; sophomore left-fielder Kalyn Lawrence has a .547 average and scored 37 times; Tyler hits .491 with five homers, 32 RBIs and 44 runs scored, and Hartle, a second baseman, bats .456 with four homers, 47 ribbies and 39 runs scored.

"We hit pretty well 1-through-9, but I also know she's a very good pitcher," Wadel said. "It'll be an interesting matchup because she's dominant in what she does. My girls, a lot of them play high-level travel ball and have seen some high-quality pitching. It'll be fun."

Boonsboro went undefeated during the regular season but fell to Walkersville, 9-6, in the Central Maryland Conference Small School championship game.

Allegany is hoping to join one of its regular-season opponents in the winner's circle after University, of Morgantown, West Virginia, defeated Washington, 10-0, on Thursday to capture the Class AAA state championship.

Two other Allegany opponents advanced to West Virginia title games. Keyser was the Class AA state runner-up to Winfield, and Petersburg was second in Class A to St. Marys.

Now it's Allegany's turn to try and bring a championship back to the area.

"It would mean everything to our program and everything to the kids who are leaving," Winner said. "It also gives the young kids coming in something to aspire to. Winning a second in three years would be these seniors' ultimate sendoff."

Alex Rychwalski is a sports reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @arychwal.